Expert quakes at tremor safety

Less than 6 percent of public buildings in Greece have been properly inspected to ascertain whether they can withstand earthquakes, it was revealed yesterday, as experts warned that authorities have become too lax in their monitoring duties in recent years. Speaking at a conference in Athens, the head of the Earthquake Planning and Protection Organization (OASP), Costas Markopoulos, said that engineers have conducted seismic tests on just 5.6 percent of Greece’s 80,000 public buildings. Thousands of people are working in and using buildings that might not be safe if there is an earthquake, Markopoulos suggested. He also underlined that in some areas which are particularly prone to quakes, such as the Ionian island of Zakynthos, authorities are not being stringent enough. Markopoulos said that prefectures have not been doing their jobs properly. «We are trying to put pressure on prefectures but we are not seeing any results,» said Markopoulos. «We were recently invited to the island of Chios after an earthquake but found that the prefecture had not inspected a single building for the last seven years, not even its own headquarters. «We encountered a similar situation in Lefkada, one of the most seismically active islands in the country.» The OASP president added that he was shocked to see buildings, including hotels, being built on steep slopes on Zakynthos. Four earthquakes struck the island in 1953, including one which measured 7.3 Richter. The tremors caused widespread damage. «Unfortunately, some people have a short memory,» said Markopoulos.