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No apology, no resignation: The pressure on the Greek government is increasing



MATI, Greece (Reuters) – Greece's opposition on Friday accused the government of arrogance and utter failure to protect lives as they responded to devastating wildfire, leaving open questions about how at least 86 people died in the city of Mati ,

After a wildfire in the village of Mati near Athens, Greece, on July 27, 201

8, a burned bank was seen on a campsite. REUTERS / Costas Baltas

Survivors of one of the worst Greek calamities in the memory of a minister of state when he visited the scene less than 30 km east of Athens on Thursday.

But on Friday, an official three-day mourning for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras ended, and his opponents immediately went on the offensive.

The biggest opposition party "New Democracy" criticized an intergovernmental conference on Thursday evening that did not hear a word of apology. "This government has just added its unbridled breadth to its miserable failure to protect people's lives and property," said New Democracy spokeswoman Maria Spyraki.

Civil Defense Minister Nikos Toskas told the press conference that the government suspected arson behind the Monday night flame front, which had caught dozens of people in their cars trying to escape a flaming wall.

Aristides Katsaros, 69, carries debris from his house after a wildfire in the village of Mati, near Athens, Greece, July 27, 2018. REUTERS / Costas Baltas

The leftist government defended itself and said that There was no time to evacuate people because the fire spread very quickly.

But the pressure on the government, left behind in opinion polls about the New Democracy, is growing as the number of dead is expected to rise and the questions of how people are trapped are flared up.

Tsipras has not been seen in public since Tuesday when he explained the three days of national mourning for the dead. A Cabinet meeting was scheduled for Friday at 1400 GMT.

The criticism of the politicians reflected the anger among the survivors. "They left us alone to burn like mice," Chryssa, one of the survivors in Mati, told Skai TV. "Nobody came here to apologize, to submit his resignation, nobody."

Toskas said he had offered his resignation, but Tsipras refused. "One day after the tragedy, especially to clear my conscience and not because of mistakes, I offered my resignation to the Prime Minister, who told me it was time to fight," Toskas told reporters on Thursday.

Fofi Gennimata, leader of the socialist PASOK party, said the government had a great political responsibility.

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"Why did not they protect people by implementing in time the available plan for organized and coordinated evacuation in the threatened areas?" She said. "They have admitted that they make people burn helpless."

One-time payments

The government has announced a long list of relief measures, including a one-time payment of 10,000 euros for the families of the victims. Her spouses and close relatives were also offered civil service posts. But many felt that this was not enough to relieve the pain and wanted the authorities to take responsibility for the scale of the devastation.

About 300 firefighters and volunteers combed the area on Friday because dozens were missing. More than 500 houses were destroyed and the fire department said some closed houses had not been checked.

The Haphazard and unlicensed building, which can be found in many parts of Greece, was also blamed for it. Many paths to the beach were closed.

The mortuary in Athens, shocked by the sight of burned bodies, including children, was scheduled to perform an autopsy on Friday after death, after relatives of victims provided information and blood tests that could help identify them.

The fire broke out at 16:57 on Monday. and spreads quickly through Mati, which is popular with local tourists.

Firefighters described a rapid change in the direction of the wind, which also took speed, and some suggested the strong covering of the jaws and a mood of panic was a deadly combination that would have been hard to combat.

Additional coverage by Michele Kambas; Edited by David Stamp

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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