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Flash floods in Evia: Fatalities rise to 8, nobody claims responsibility

The body of an elderly man was found at the beach of Kalamos in east Attica on Monday morning. Identification procedures confirmed that the body belong to the 72-year-old man missing from Bourtzi/Lefkandi, on the opposite side of the Evia Gulf since Sunday morning.

The man is the last fatality of the flash floods that stroke and destroyed large areas in the west coast of the island, taking the lives of eight people.

Hinder every victim, there is a unspoken tragedy. The youngest victim is an 8-month old baby, the oldest 88 years old. Two of the dead were elderly with mobility issues.

Relatives of the baby’s parents told media, that the couple was sleeping in the basement when the waters busted into the room from the window. The father grabbed the baby, but the force of waters was so powerful that it swept it away from his hands.

Hours later, firefighters found the lifeless body of the baby under a couch, covered with mud. “At first, I thought it was a doll,” a shocked firefighter told reporters.

An 88-year-old man in Politika village had no chance of survival. The waters rushed into his bed from the window, flooding the room within minutes. The man was reportedly blind and suffering from dementia.

A 86-year-old woman who was suffering from mobility issues died in her bed as well.

A young couple, aged 38 and 42 years old, died inside the home on the hill they had rented for their summer vacations. The house was next to the river that overflooded, and the rushing waters rushed inside ripping windows and doors from the frames.

Among the dead is also another couple of aged 74 and 65 killed inside their home and a 39-year-old man.

Others escaped death at the last moment: a man said that he was sleeping when he felt the water on his mouth. He jumped and managed to escape.

An 97-year-old bed-ridden woman was “rescued” because the floods carried high the medical mattress filled with air. “We thought that she had died, but we found granny alive on the floating mattress,” residents of Politika told told ERT TV.

A 90-year-old woman with mobility problems spent three hours hooked on a concrete block outside her house. She managed to avoid being swept away by the waters until rescuers came.

Residents and holidaymakers are angry and complain that there was no help as the waters flooded the villages north and south of the Evia capital Halkida in the early morning hours of Sunday.

A woman told Star TV how the family survived the disaster.

“My cousin called me at 4:30 in the morning, shouting we are drowning, do something, please! He was with his parents suffering form dementia. They were sleeping and suddenly they saw water under the door, when they opened it they were swept away. I was 100 meters away and there was nothing I could do. I was holding my uncle with one hand, the river threw us on a fence. Hadn’t it be there we would have drowned. My cousin tied the uncle, the aunt and out dog on a tree and was trying to hold them there because he was being swept away by the waters.”

The woman, Kalomira Bertoli, said that they were shouting at two fire service trucks nearby but they were not heard.

When the state mechanism finally started launching rescue operations, it managed to evacuate 97 people, among them 47 with helicopters.

Behind are the 8 dead, 2,500 houses damaged by the waters and the mud, destroyed crops, dead animals and survivors in shock.

There is currently no information about other missing people. Neither any number about injured has become known.

For one more time, nobody claimed responsibility for the disaster, but followed the good old politicians’ practice to push responsibility to somebody else.

Asked by reporters why the Civil Protection did not alerted the residents of the upcoming floods via the Emergency Number <112>, head of Civil Protection Nikos Hardalias said that “Had we operated the 112, we would have dozens of dead…”

He came under fire for this statement, with hundreds of Greeks on social media telling him that the emergency message could have urged the people to “stay at home” and eventually “seek safety in upper floors.”

Hardalias later blamed …meteorologists claiming that they had a wrong forecast. “The forecast in the area for 63mm of rain, while more than 350 mm fell,” he said.

Meteorologists dismissed his claim saying that they had warned of the persistent storm since Thursday.

Monday afternoon, the Prosecutor of Halkida ordered investigation into the reasons that caused the death of 8 people. Investigated are reportedly the responsibilities of the Fire Service and its possible omissions and mistakes in handling with the phenomenon as well as arbitrary constructions and illegal earthworks at the riverbed of river Lilantas that overflooded.

It rained for 8 consecutive hours. Hardalias said that a lot of people were rescued.

PS Right. We could write a headline such as “200,000 people in Evia didn’t die.”

Did anyone resign? What? We are in Greece, folks, where disasters (Mandra, Mati) are always politicized by the main opposition party that forgets its own responsibilities when it comes to power.

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  1. Same old, same old

    He also could blame God. Or the ancient Gods.

    “mistakes in handling with the phenomenon as well as arbitrary constructions and illegal earthworks at the riverbed of river Lilantas that overflooded”.

    Why am I not surprised?

  2. My condolences to all beloved ones who lost their lives. As these kind of floods are meanwhile a common thing, it usually always turns out later that they have build houses, roads etc. in natural river beds. Those might be in use only once in 10 years, but if you block them/rebuild stuff on them chances are very high that the next big rains will end in something like this. Who is to blame? I assume the people who gave the building permission.