Only small number of Cephalonia buildings set for demolition

Just 2.5 percent of buildings on the Ionian island of Cephalonia have been slated for demolition by state engineers so far following damage suffered during two large earthquakes on January 26 and February 3. The engineers, however, warned that almost every building they inspected that was illegally constructed or had unlicensed additions suffered extensively in the two quakes.

Infrastructure Minister Yiannis Chrysochoidis was on the Ionian island on Monday to be briefed on the progress of inspections to buildings and infrastructure, such as roads, ports, marinas and the airport. He headed a meeting of high-ranking government and local authority officials, who said that from January 27 to February 10, a total of 4,026 buildings were inspected in the Cephalonia towns of Argostoli and Lixouri, adding that inspections were also carried on the nearby island of Ithaca, which was also rocked by the quakes.

Of these buildings, 42 percent were deemed temporarily uninhabitable and need to undergo extensive repairs. From February 10-16, inspectors carried out the second round of checks on 1,579 badly damaged buildings finding that 30 percent can be inhabited pending repairs, 62 percent will require major reconstruction and 8 percent will have to undergo a third inspection before being possibly demolished. Of the 122 buildings that will have to be inspected for a third time, 40, or 2.5 percent are destined for certain demolition.

The final round of inspections is expected to be completed by Friday, after which the government will begin meeting compensation claims.

Chrysochoidis said that two offices will be opened on the island to supervise the disbursement of funding for the reconstruction effort and benefits to quake-hit residents.