Deputy Minister for Civil Protection Nikos Hardalias defended a decision not to send out warnings by text message to the cellphones of people on the island of Evia ahead of a weekend storm that resulted in floods that killed seven and submerged swathes of land.
“Everything happened very suddenly. It was very important that we were monitoring the phenomena from the beginning…we knew that in the wider area there would be a problem, of course with less data, but in any case the [civil defense] mechanism was not caught off guard,” he told journalists during a visit to the area on Sunday.
“If [emergency number] 112 operated, we would have had hundreds of deaths. When you have a [developing] phenomenon you do not call for an evacuation. How could we have asked for an evacuation when the area outside is flooded?”
Hardalias said the 112 emergency number was ready but it is “an operational tool that is not for every incident.”
Authorities had expected 63mm of rain to fall within 24 hours, but the latest confirmed measurement showed 350mm of rain, he continued.