Easter exodus is prolonged

Although 730,000 cars left the capital during the week leading up to Greek Orthodox Easter, only 170,000 had returned by late yesterday as Athenians took advantage of the good weather and tomorrow’s May Day holiday to extend their Easter breaks. And with temperatures expected to rise to 29C (84F) by the weekend, another exodus of city-dwellers is expected by May Day. Extra lanes will be opened up at key junctions on the Athens-Corinth national road to minimize traffic snaggles. To further ease congestion, trucks weighing more than 1.5 tons will be banned from key road junctions every Friday and Sunday between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. from May 2 until September 14. The ban affects the Athens-Corinth, Athens-Lamia and Thessaloniki-Kavala national roads and the Vale of Tempe, where 21 schoolchildren died in a bus hit by a truck last month. Strict traffic measures over Easter did not avert the 403 traffic accidents reported until late yesterday, in which 37 people lost their lives and 67 were seriously injured (an improvement over last year when 64 people died and 88 were seriously injured). A 44-year-old woman, her 22-year-old son and her 15-year-old daughter were killed yesterday after their car veered into an oncoming truck just outside Gerakas on the eastern outskirts of Athens. On Easter Monday, a 45-year-old man, his son, 10, and nephew, 11, were killed after their car was struck by a train at a crossing near Larissa. On the same day, a 33-year-old man lost his son, 10, in a collision outside Athens. Fireworks also caused several injuries. An 18-year-old boy from a village in the Peloponnese had to have parts of both arms amputated after handling a homemade firecracker. A 17-year-old from Souli in Achaia lost a hand and another five people were slightly injured.