Rain could cause more rockfalls

Less than a month after a major rockfall in the Vale of Tempe in central Greece led to an engineer’s death and the closure of a section of the Athens-Thessaloniki national road, engineers have warned there are nine other points along Greek highways where a similar accident could happen. The Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE), the professional body that advises the government on engineering and technical matters, warned that checks along national roads need to be stepped up as recent heavy rainfall has increased the likelihood of rocks falling onto highways. TEE said that a rockfall at a point on the Corinth-Patra national road would result in road and rail links to western Greece being cut. The chamber’s Road Safety Observatory identified nine spots as being in need of particular attention: the Panagopoula area on the Corinth-Patra highway, the Epirote Tempe area on the Ioannina-Arta national road, the Lygia area between Preveza and Igoumentisa, the areas of Makrakomi, Frangitsa and Parakambylia on the Lamia-Karpenisi-Agrinio highway, at Delphi on the Livadia to Amfissa road and at Thermopylae on the Lamia to Amfissa highway. «The most crucial of all these areas is the first, Panagopoula,» Antonis Kastis, the head of TEE’s Road Safety Observatory, told Kathimerini. «If there is a rockfall there, there are no alternative routes. If there is a problem, the train will not be able to get through and cars will have to follow a diversion that will take them through Tripoli, which is much longer than anything in place at Tempe now.» There have been four diversions in place at Tempe since the road was closed on December 18. The highway is not due to open before the end of the month. Tempe was just one of several recent rockfalls. «The recent incidents in Tempe, Ioannina and Cassandra prove that we are faced with a rise in rockfalls due to heavy rainfall,» said Kastis. «Therefore, it is paramount that there are checks and that side roads are improved.»

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