There is serious evidence of arson for the Athens wildfires in East and West Attica, the Greek government said during a press conference. Friday morning, the chief coroner of the central morgue where the bodies of the people who lost their lives on land or in the sea have been transferred make a shocking announcement.
“We have concluded examination on 86 bodies,” Nikos Karakoukis said in a short briefing to reporters. According to the Fire Service, the number of dead was 83 by Thursday evening.
“There is serious evidence pointing to a criminal action,” Alternate Minister for Citizen Protection and Public Order Nikos Toskas said at a press conference late on Thursday. Investigation with the aid of satellite footage and pictures from the deadly wildfires in East Attica as well as in West Attica last Monday. “There are not only indications, there is serious evidence” that the wildfires were arson, the minister said.
According to government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos at the same presser, the Defense Ministry contacted ally countries and asked footage and material from satellites in order to determine in exact way the first spots of the fires in Daou on Penteli mountain in East Attica and Kinetta in West Attica.
At the same time, the Ministry for Digital Policy activated the Greek Space Agency (ELDO) system and collected all available data from European and international satellite systems via the International Charter Space and Major Disasters and the European Space Agency (ESA).
Following the data collection, the Fire Service and unis of the Greek Army checked the specific areas where the fires started and confirmed the satellite data.
Material presented at the press conference
Traces of the first fires via satellite
Minister Toskas pointed out that there are indications of arson also for one more fire that broke out in Nea Makri, right next to disaster area Mati. “Two fires broke out at a distance of 300 m” almost at the same time.
One the day the fires broke out there was very strong wind blowing with 120km per hour and reaching up to 11 Beaufort. The blaze reached the sea from the mountain in less than 1.5 hour.
Evidence was presented at the press conference by the head of the Greek Space Agency Giorgos Matzouris
Infographic from the fires in Kineta West Attica and Daou Pentali West Attica
Infographic: “μ” stands for “meter”
Fire Kineta East Attica
The first fire spotted on satellite system was at 12:03 noon Monday 23. July 2018.
At 12:35 pm the satellite data shows that 13 fiery fireplaces in a linear array appear initially near a road network.
The wind direction was North-NorthWest. The fires recorded 30 minutes later in areas NNW of the first fires “raise reasonable questions.”
It is noted that the thermal points, as depicted by the satellite imagery, are in conceivable and parallel lines close to a road network and are approximately 1,100 m apart. It is indicated stressed that there is almost identical timely manifestation of the thermal points.
Fire Penteli/Mati East Attica
Thermal points are with fire outbreaks with wind intensity reaching 120 km / h, resulting in the fire expanding in less than one and a half hour to the beach.
The satellite footprints were handed over to the Ministry of Citizen Protection in order to proceed with the autopsies at the above points.
So far data from the following systems have been used:
- «International Charter for Space and Major Disasters» via ESA
- Copernicus Emergency Management Service.
- European satellite Sentinel 2.
- NASA Fire Management System
- French satellite system Pleiades
Investigation by the Fire Service continues with inspections on the spots, satellite material and eyewitnesses’ testimonies. (sources: live presser on TV, amna.gr, pictures were displayed at the presser.).
Video shot from Canadair aircraft fighting the fires in east and West Attica on 23. July 2018