NEWS

Political storm follows weekend rains

The floods that afflicted parts of Attica during last weekend’s heavy storms gave rise to political thunder yesterday with Prime Minister Costas Simitis defending his government against opposition claims of incompetence. Natural disasters always cause victims or damage, Simitis told Parliament, in response to a question by opposition New Democracy’s Procopis Pavlopoulos. At some point, natural disasters should cease to be the subject of petty political exploitation. Two people drowned during the weekend storms, both in northern Attica, while the main highway linking northern and southern Greece was blocked by a deep pond at Malakassa, some 40 kilometers north of Athens. Yesterday, Deputy Interior Minister Lambros Papadimas told Parliament that the two victims – an Albanian laborer and a monk who died trapped in his car – were fully to blame for their fate. He said a storm warning had been issued well in advance, and attributed the two deaths to the fact that the victims themselves had neglected to take elementary precautions. Simitis said the flood at Malakassa had been caused by a road drainage system that had been blocked by large quantities of earth. Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou seconded this yesterday, presenting the findings of an investigation into flooding at Malakassa, Rapendosa, the new Attiki Odos highway and the Spata airport. Her predecessor, Costas Laliotis, had blamed ND and the railway company.