The death toll from Monday’s deadly wildfires in Eastern Attica, just 30 kilometers from the capital of Athens, rose to 85 on Thursday, after a 73-year-old man died in hospital and two more bodies were recovered from the ashes by rescuers. Earlier, during a press conference, Fire Brigade spokesperson Stavroula Malliri told journalists the number had risen to 82, one more compared to Wednesday.
“Understanding the agony of the relatives of those missing, we inform you that the search to find them will not stop until all areas affected by the wildfires have been searched”, Malliri highlighted. As of Thursday, some 300 firemen, volunteers are searching the hundreds of destroyed properties in search of missing people, the exact number has not been officially confirmed yet, four days after the flames destroyed what was once a “green paradise”.
The Fire Brigade spokesperson urged relatives of those missing, among them two 9-year old sisters, to visit the Athens University Coroner’s Service, as DNA tests must be taken in order to identify some of the catastrophic blaze victims’ bodies who have suffered burns beyond recognition.
Moreover, Malliri, expressed the Greek Fire Brigade’s gratitude to all citizens, volunteers, organizations, local authorities, Armed Forces, Police, Coast Guard, Red Cross, companies and other bodies that have assisted its mission following the unspeakable tragedy that struck Eastern Attica.
According to an announcement issued by the Infrastructure Ministry, 1,218 buildings (49 percent) out of the 2,489 assessed by its engineers were characterized as uninhabitable.
National Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, visited areas devastated by the flames and was strongly criticized for the government’s stance: “You abandoned us”, “You left us alone to be burned”, “You abandoned us to God’s mercy”, were among the furious comments residents made while Kammenos was attempting to make an on-camera inspection. “There was neither plan nor protection. People were left swimming for hours unassisted”, another citizen told the Minister and junior coalition partner, Independent Greeks (ANEL), leader who attempted to refute him, claiming that Special Force men were on the spot.
On his behalf, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Christos Spirtzis did not rule out the possibility of arson. Answering questions regarding the government’s responsibilities, Spirtzis defended its reaction, highlighting that all ministers had thrown themselves into the battle from the first minute.
Penteli Mayor Dimitris Stergiou has expressed the opinion that a damaged Public Power Corporation cable in the Daou area started the deadly wildfire. Penteli Mountain, northeast of Athens, was the place the fire started on Monday afternoon, before moving east fuelled by the strong winds.
According to state-run Athens Macedonian News Agency, the government has presented the complete set of measures for fire victims, agreed after a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. The measures are grouped into three categories: A) Measures for the immediate help of fire victims, which includes a 5,000 euro benefit for families and individuals hurt by the fire and 6,000 euros for families with three children or more. For businesses that suffered damages, there will be a benefit of 8,000 euros. There are also measures of immediate tax relief, such as the dropping of the ENFIA tax bill for homes that have been destroyed. B) Measures for the families of the victims. C) Measures to restore damages suffered by private individuals and for municipalities.