OPINION

God saved us, from quake and state

The head of the Athens Geodynamic Institute, Giorgos Stavrakakis, believes that the «God looking over Greece saved the country» by putting the epicenter of Sunday’s earthquake at a depth of 70 kilometers. The question, though, is what is the role of Greeks in this country? Because anyone wanting to know the details of the quake’s magnitude and depth would have been better off asking God or seismological centers abroad, as Greek seismologists took 40 minutes to provide this information. They must have been deep in prayer. So, the question is not what God is doing, but what we will do when and if Greece’s God does not save the day. Judging by the Athens Geodynamic Institute’s delay in announcing God’s mysterious ways, the answer, obviously, is: Not much. When foreign services are able to provide answers to the size and depth of an earthquake well before local services, we can only imagine the mess that other sectors of the earthquake protection service are in. This is no laughing matter and should not be taken lightly simply because this time there were no human or material casualties. What we should be asking is how well prepared we are for the worst-case scenario. If we think back to the summer fires, they began without victims and property damage, only to end up claiming nearly 70 lives and burning hundreds of homes. It is all well and good to invoke God when everything turns out all right, but it is even better to be prepared for the worst. According to new bulletins, Stavrakakis responded to criticism of the delay by saying that the state was informed of the quake’s magnitude within 15 minutes of it having struck. «The delay came in turning that information over to the media – something which,» he added, «is really not so terrible.» The Athens Geodynamic Institute’s director went on to add that the delay occurred because the service had to make exact measurements of the earthquake before making anything public. «It took a while to measure the exact depth of the epicenter,» he said. «If we had not taken correct measurements, our assessments would have been off.» Of course, nothing «is really terrible» in Greece. Even a 40-minute delay is enough to create panic. But here is another worrying aspect of this story: If the state was informed in 15 minutes, but it took 40 to get exact measurements, then we can only surmise that the state was given the wrong readings. This means that if matters had been worse, the first crucial minutes of decision-making would have been based on the wrong assessments. Indeed, Greece’s God did save us, and not just from the earthquake, but also from the state mechanism, a part of which is the Athens Geodynamic Institute.