Five workers die in accidents

Five people died in four work-related accidents across Greece – with two being killed at Menidi and one each at Nea Smyrni, Thessaloniki and Halkidiki – in the worst day since six workers were killed in an explosion at the Corinth Pipeworks in April. Dimitris Kolovos, 45, and Vasili Passa, 42, died when they were overcome by methane fumes in a sewer while carrying out a project for Acharnon Municipality at Menidi. Dimitris Tsakalis, 32, first went into the sewer to measure its depth and was overcome by the fumes. His colleagues went in to save him and they too collapsed. They were pulled out a short while later by the fire department, but the two were dead and Tsakalis is being treated at Sismanogleio Hospital, where he is in critical condition. Labor Inspectorate officials said the three belonged to a small private team that was working on the area’s sewerage system. They had not taken the necessary precautions, such as wearing gas masks, and no one was supervising them. If a supervisor was there, he had run away to evade arrest, officials said. The accident underscored the dangers faced by foreign workers especially, as Passa and Tsakalis are Albanian citizens. Foreign workers are usually more likely to carry out dangerous work without objecting, are not union members, and often don’t have the necessary training. Last year, 40 foreign workers died in work-related accidents, 38 died in 2001 and 20 in 2000. The Labor Inspectorate said that of the 153 fatal work-related accidents last year, 83 were on construction sites, followed by nine in food and drinks facilities. Three people died in falls yesterday: Kyriakos Vlachos, 35, at a building site in Nea Smyrni, Athens; a 53-year-old welder identified as N.A. fell off a machine at Langada, Thessaloniki; and Stefanos Sevlidis, 51, fell off a roof at Polychrono, Halkidiki.

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