Geology prof.: haphazard construction caused deadly flooding west of Athens

16 November 2017
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A veteran geology professor blamed Wednesday’s deadly flooding in an industrial district west of Athens, north of the Gulf of Elefsina, directly on ill-advised man-made interventions, stressing that “nature had previously issued a warning over today’s tragedy”.

Athens Univ. Prof. Dimitris Papanikolaou’s statements were diametrically opposed to those of Greece’s weather service, who said the torrential rainfall that caused the flooding “could” be due to global climate change.
Papanikolaou was quoted as saying that his post-graduate course focused directly on the devastated area, given that similar natural disasters had struck there in the past.

Thhe academic told the state-run news agency that “… the primary exercise on flooding was the Mandra region, which we chose as one of several characteristic cases where human intervention and ignorance or indifference, or in any case, a lack of knowledge and not seriously dealing with the issue was criminal, because the old Athens-Thebes highway passes through the Mandra area, and next to this road … there was a mountainous region … several kilometers north of Mandra, with a network of small creeks that converge to create a bigger stream, which has been filled in over a length of 500 meters.”

Papanikolaou said construction at the narrowest part of the one-time gully included a bus depot built by the municipality and a super market, which essentially cut off the course of storm runoff towards the gulf, a few kilometers to the south.

“The tragedy is that in 1996 we had another two (flooding) victims, in the exact same upstream site, one or two kilometers from the point where the (runoff) passage had choked off,” he added.

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