Probe into killer steam irons

An investigation was launched by the government yesterday into why authorities had waited until late Wednesday before informing consumers about a brand of steam iron held responsible for the electrocution of at least two people last year. The Development Ministry issued a statement on Wednesday night saying that a batch of Chinese-made, 1,800-Watt Perla steam irons were «particularly dangerous» to use. The ministry said that 338 of the 816 irons sold in Greece had yet to be returned to electrical retailers and advised consumers who still had them not to use them. However, the ministry still failed to mention that two people had been killed while using the brand of steam iron in question. An engineer at the Kavala-based company which imported the irons was killed last March after suffering an electric shock as he was about to repair one of the irons. Also, a Kavala court recently awarded 300,000 euros in compensation to the family of a Karditsa housewife who died in a similar fashion last February. Despite the fact that the company ran warning advertisements in a number of newspapers last September, it seems that public authorities were not alerted to the problem until very recently. The ministry’s general secretary for consumer affairs, Thanassis Skordas, said that he had not been informed of the issue until eight days ago, despite the fact that police, prosecutors and the Labor Inspectorate had all been aware of the two deaths since last year. Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said that although the priority was to withdraw the remaining suspect steam irons from the market, a probe would be launched immediately to establish whether public officials had been negligent in informing the public about the problem.

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