NEWS

Authorities clean up, take stock after fatal Attica flash floods

TAGS: Weather

Emergency services on Thursday continued their search for at least four people who remained missing following the disastrous flash floods that struck the western outskirts of Athens on Wednesday, as the death toll rose to 16. 

The 16th victim, a 50-year-old man, was found dead in his home near Nea Peramos early on Thursday.

Another four people – three motorists and a hunter – remained unaccounted for last night. However, rescue workers found another two missing people.

One man had been trapped in his car for more than 24 hours. A second man was found in his inundated home. Both were said to be well.

Meanwhile efforts got under way to assess the extent of the damage to state infrastructure and private property and to accommodate scores of people whose homes were destroyed in the flash floods.

There were fears that the situation may worsen as there were more downpours last night in Mandra, the town hardest hit by the floods – where 14 of the 16 victims were found – and meteorologists forecast more rain through Saturday.

With forecasts of storms in the Ionian, local authorities on Cephalonia, Zakynthos and Ithaca started taking preventive measures yesterday following a joint decision by the islands’ three mayors. 

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visited Mandra on Thursday with a team of government officials, including Interior Minister Panos Skourletis and Attica Governor Rena Dourou. 

The premier said he was “shocked” at the scale of the damage, which he blamed on “rare and extreme weather conditions,” “accumulated inaction” and “inadequacies in infrastructure works and town planning.” 

“Let the destruction in western Attica be the spark that finally incites us all to tackle chronic problems that have persisted for decades,” he said. 

Speaking earlier, Dourou indicated that she would accept the blame in the event that an investigation points to shortfalls by regional authorities.

Those comments came a few hours after she called for “blame to be apportioned” for the deaths and destruction wreaked by the floods and lodged a legal suit with

Supreme Court prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou “so I can contribute toward certain individuals eventually being punished.”

Conservative New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who had visited the scene of the flash floods on Wednesday, announced on Thursday that the opposition party would set up a five-member committee of experts aimed at determining the reasons for the scale of the floods and to promote measures that would prevent a repeat of such a disaster.

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