Relatives testify in Attica fires inquiry

Relatives testify in Attica fires inquiry

The death toll from last month’s wildfires on the outskirts of Attica rose to 95, following the deaths of two burns victims, as a large blaze that broke out on the island of Evia on Sunday was brought under control on Monday. 

The two new deaths were of a 57-year-old woman and a 63-year-old man. According to Health Ministry data, 30 burns victims from the July 23 fires remain in Attica hospitals, four in intensive care. 

A blaze that broke out on Evia on Sunday was brought under control on Monday night, though not before it destroyed some 1,200 hectares of forestland.

The fire had approached residential areas on Sunday, prompting the evacuation of two villages. The regional governor for Central Greece, Costas Bakoyannis, said authorities “acted effectively.” “We were ready, we had a plan.” 

A judicial probe into last month’s wildfires has been focusing on apparent shortcomings by the fire service and regional authorities. 

On Tuesday and Wednesday, two people who lost relatives in the fire that razed Neos Voutzas in eastern Attica are to provide testimony for the probe being conducted by first instance prosecutor Ilias Zagoraios.

Vassilis Katsargyris, a 70-year-old teacher who lost his wife and daughter, and Maria Pagomenou-Papanikolaou, a 73-year-old teacher who lost her son, have sued the former general secretary for civil protection, Yiannis Kapakis, Attica Regional Governor Rena Dourou, Marathon Mayor Ilias Psinakis and police and fire service officers.

In his initial testimony, Katsargyris said he and and his family received no instructions from local authorities nor the police or the fire service on how to respond in the event of a fire. A new legal suit was lodged on Monday by Aris Herouveim, who lost his mother, sister and two 5-year-old nieces in the fire at Mati.

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