Extreme weather caused the flash floods in Mandra, but “human irresponsibility and bureaucracy” are the causes for the tragedy that took the lives of 24 people in Mandra, West Attica, one and a half month ago. These are the findings of a research conducted by inspectors at the General Inspector of Public Administration as published by daily Efimerida Ton Syntakton on Thursday.
The first official document on the part of the state consists of 40 pages and describes, among others, the responsibility of the Aegaleo Foresty department that resulted in the absence of anti-flooding measures in the Agia Ekaterini river. Also, the arbitrary construction of the municipal depot on the bed of Soures and the building permissions for several industrial buildings that had the local stream “disappear”.
The inspectors found that the rainfall on the Mt Pateras was extremely heavy but the crucial role for the tragedy in Mandra was the simultaneous flow of big water masses along the rivers of Agia Ekaterini and Soures (blue lines on the map below, green are the flooded areas) that have been largely filled-in.
According to the findings report, the inspectors said that the rainfall was very heavy, and the simultaneous merging of overflow from two streams which had been filled in by construction played a very crucial role. Inspectors also pointed out the responsibility of the public services and agencies for the delays in implementing flood protection works, and the irresponsibility of local authorities, which created the municipal bus depot of Mandra over one of the filled-in streams.
Inspector general: Bureaucracy and irresponsibility played a role in deaths at Mandra floods
“There may have been extreme weather conditions in the area of Mandra, however, without irresponsibility and bureaucratic inflexibility there may have been no deaths,” Inspector General of Public Administration Maria Papaspyrou told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) on Thursday, commenting on her office’s inspectors’ report on the recent flood that plagued Mandra.
According to Papaspyrou, “fixations and inflexibilities in routine issues as well as wrong evaluation of the priorities impeded the construction of the necessary flood protection works in the region.”
The responsibility for the tragedy also appears to have had its root causes in the past, when the old national road of Elefsina-Thebes was constructed on a filled-in stream, and the water drainage pipes that were built could not handle the flood waters.
“They did not take under consideration that Mt. Pateras has a rocky ground that can’t contain rain water,” she explained.
She added that the current report is an interim one, based on data collected so far, while specific failures of responsibilities will be listed in the final report. Nevertheless, she has sent this interim report to the prosecutor, she added.
In Mandra, residents still struggle to return to normal life and wants those responsible to be taken to justice.
“Even if the public servants have retired, they should be brought to justice and pay for what they did,” a local told television channels after the release of the inspectors’ report.