It was all fine during the press conference on the Athens wildfires late on Thursday evening. Alternate Minister for Civil Protection, the chief of the Fire Service and the Greek Police, the CEO of the Greek Space Agency and the government spokesman sat next to each other in front of reporters to brief about the disaster that hit East Attica with at least 87 verified dead and dozens still missing.
“I try but I don’t find big operational mistakes. The losses are big, the disastrous work of the fire lasted one and half hour,” Alternate Minister of Public Order and Citizen Protection Nikos Toskas said among others.
Also the chief of the Fire Service Sotiris Terzoudis said he would not have done anything different had he turned the clock back.
Stressing that aerial means to combat the fire were immediately deployed as well as fire trucks.
“There were 40 fire trucks along Marathon Avenue, the flames were extending to 30-40 meters,” he said.
“The chief of the fire units there assured me that he proposed evacuation, we investigate when this proposal was made. the phenomenon lasted one and a half hour. Instructions speak of timely evacuation. there is no precedence for evacuation of areas with so much population,” Terzoudis added.
Chief of Greek Police Konstantinos Tsouvalas justified the decision to close Marathon Avenue, the main road above Mati through which the people could escape the inferno. “At 6:13 we gave order to close the entrances, while the exits were permanently open. This was done in order to facilitate fire trucks, police cars and everyone who was on the streets,” he said.
“At 6:25 the fire crossed the Avenue,” he added stressing “hadn’t we done this we would have 500-1000 burned cars.”
If not thousands, hundreds of cars left the area through the Marathon Avenue,” he said and added that 1,500 people were saved at the sea area.
He underlined that those who left in time escaped the inferno.
The press conference was lengthy and as the time passed, stunned citizens and reporters got this horrifying feeling that those responsible for the operation were about to start congratulating themselves for the “work” they did according to their presentation and wish each other “Keep up the good work.”
There was not a single word of apology for the children, men, women and elderly who lost their lives trying to flee the boiling-hot fire breathe, for all those who were left alone, without any instructions on what to do and where to go. Not a single word of apology to all those running in panic, trapped in the flames, in their cars, waiting for five hours inside the sea water holding tight their babies, their children, their fragile partners, their friends, their pets.
Not a single word of apology to the more than 180 people laying in the hospitals with burns and respiratory problem, not a single a or b to the ten still in critical position.
Nothing. Not a word of apology to the relatives of the dead, to those who survived the inferno but lost their whole families.
Nothing to all those who were left alone in their survival struggle without the presence of any local or central authority.
Minister Toskas, a retired Lt General of the Greek Army, revealed at some point during the presser that he submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on the following day, but that Tsipras did not accept it.
Alexis Tsipras said on Friday afternoon that he accepts “the whole political responsibility towards the Greek people and the cabinet ministers for the tragedy in Mati.” He called on the ministers to do the same.
AND? Is that ALL?
Something as somebody commented “Are you Happy now? Move on, nothing to see here!”
PS heaving dealt so close with the creditors for so many years, left-wing SYRIZA has adopted also technocrats’ thick skin, I’m afraid. Even if they immediately released a long list of financial and other support measures.