BBC reports drivers were sent into path of blaze by Greek police

2 August 2018
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The BBC covers the aftermath of the Mati fires of July 23, which led to dozens of people dying in the flames. underlining the growing rage of the citizens towards the government and local authorities for their incompetence in dealing with the disaster, as well as the fact that nobody has resigned yet.

In a piece entitled “Greek wildfires:

Drivers ‘sent into path of blaze by police’”, the article says people fleeing the area were mistakenly directed back into the inferno by police.

From the BBC:

More than a week after the deaths of at least 91 people in wildfires on the Greek coast, a catalogue of errors by local authorities has emerged.

Police set up diversions for drivers that sent them into the path of the fire, according to one senior expert.
A separate study has found that no alarm was raised and residents and tourists had no chance to flee.

The authorities’ handling of the fire has already been widely criticised by residents caught up in the disaster.
The Greek government blamed arsonists for causing the fire and has accused some residents of obstructing escape routes in the town of Mati by building illegally.

One of the most devastating images in Mati was of dozens of burned-out cars a short distance from the coast. According to Prof Vassilis Digalakis of the Technical University of Crete, cars were unwittingly sent into the area by police.

Instead of turning cars back on the main road, Marathon Avenue, police created diversions and sent drivers heading both south and north towards the area about to be devastated by the fire, he told the BBC.

“Obviously they had to stop the traffic on Marathon Avenue as the cars would have run into the fire,” he said.
“But instead of blocking the traffic and ordering the drivers to make a U-turn, they allowed them to seek alternative routes – and the only routes were through Mati.”

A police Facebook post went up on 23 July, a short time before police diverted traffic. It listed three diversions from Marathon Avenue and a fourth, close to the fire itself in Kokkino Limanaki. The message was also posted by the Civil Protection directorate.

So far the bodies of 76 people have been identified among the remains of victims recovered from both land and sea. Funerals have been held for some but several people remain unaccounted for.

The families of a couple in their 70s killed in the disaster have sued police, fire, civil defence and regional leaders for their handling of the disaster.

They allege that no officials from the Marathon area or from the emergency services alerted residents, gave orders to evacuate or proposed evacuation routes.

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