A string of serious oversights resulted in the extensive loss of life and property damage in Mandra during last month’s floods in the western Attica seaside town, the General Inspector for Public Administration has found.
The floods of November 15 that resulted in 24 dead, dozens of injured and hundreds of thousands of euros’ worth of damage to businesses and homes may be seen as an “act of god,” the report published on Thursday said. However, it added, “this in no way justifies the absence of flood prevention works… that may not have radically solved the problem but would have made the situation more manageable.”
The report points in particular to the failure of state, regional and local authorities to curb or reverse illegal construction over the course of decades that had clogged up the streams of Soures and Aghia Ekaterini, which channel rainwater down the foothills of Mount Pateras into the Gulf of Elefsina.
It also stressed that a municipal vehicle depot – where several bodies were found buried under deep mud after being carried away in the torrent ¬– violated zoning codes and contributed to the devastation.
The agency’s inspectors were particularly critical of the Forestry Department for failing to carry out plans for rerouting the Aghia Ekaterini stream so that it would not pass through the middle of the town.
“The disaster could have been avoided if anti-flood work was carried out rather than becoming bogged down,” Inspector General Maria Papaspyrou told state broadcaster ERT on Thursday.
The majority of the casualties were motorists who became trapped in their trucks and cars or elderly people living in basement or ground-floor apartments that flooded violently and suddenly.