Floods damage road and rail system

Emergency crews yesterday struggled to repair damage wreaked upon the national road and railway network by several days of heavy rain as a senior engineering expert blamed the government for failing to have prepared for such a disaster. A landslide temporarily shut down the national road linking Athens to Thessaloniki near the port of Aghios Constantinos, in Fthiotida, causing severe delays for motorists. The fire service dispatched 25 engines to pump out some 50 flooded homes in the area. Meanwhile, the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) provided replacement buses to bypass a section of railway near the central town of Volos, where an overflowing stream had wrecked the rail bridge. Reacting to yesterday’s chaos, the president of the Technical Chamber of Greece, Yiannis Alavanos, condemned the government for its «consistently inadequate policy» and the alleged unaccountability of state officials. «Responsibility trickles away across five or six ministries and a few thousand state services,» he said. He said he made proposals for anti-flood works 30 years ago which have yet to be acted upon. The precarious conditions provoked by the bad weather caused two near disasters yesterday. A motorist, swept away in his car by flood waters on the Lamia-Livadia national road, was rescued by a bulldozer. Meanwhile, a large rock that fell into a street in Nea Makri, eastern Attica, after becoming dislodged from Mt Pendeli, did not cause any injuries. State officials who have been assessing damage on crops said that 100,000 hectares of cotton plantations had been ravaged as well as some 15,000 hectares of vineyards which had not yet been harvested.