Bus fires due to ‘human error’

Transport Minister Costis Hatzidakis yesterday blamed inadequate technical checks for the explosions that led to 10 Athens buses being withdrawn over the past months. «Human error» provoked the defects that caused at least 10 buses to burst into flame, Hatzidakis told a press conference, adding that several engineers employed by the Athens public bus company (ETHEL) had been suspended as disciplinary investigations get under way. The problematic buses are being inspected by a team of experts from the fire service, prosecutor’s office and the vehicles’ producer so that the exact causes of the several instances of combustion can be ascertained, the minister said. Meanwhile ETHEL’s entire fleet is undergoing rigorous tests, due to be completed by the end of this month. Of the 2,094 buses inspected so far, 10 percent have been deemed to require repair work and will remain off the roads until this has been complete, Hatzidakis said. ETHEL has heralded the recruitment of an additional 250 engineers in a bid to avert similar problems from recurring.