Expert says there was time to evacuate Mati


A study presented on Wednesday on eastern Attica’s deadly wildfires in July found that the hour and a half between when the blaze started on the slopes of Mount Penteli and when it reached Mati on the coast was ample to order the residents of the seaside town to go down to the seashore in an orderly manner.

The study, which had been commissioned by the head of opposition New Democracy Kyriakos Mitsotakis, was presented in Athens by natural disaster expert Costas Synolakis from the Technical University of Crete.

Using simulation models developed by Japan’s Waseda University and the University of Oregon in the United States, Synolakis said that it would have taken less than 90 minutes to evacuate most of the town on foot.

The expert also determined that the authorities had underestimated the force of the initial blaze and the speed at which it was spreading.

This meant that firefighting forces battling a separate blaze in Kineta, west of Athens, were not summoned until it was too late.

The death toll from the fire at Mati, meanwhile, rose to 99 this week after a burn victim died in hospital.