The Greek government is under heavy criticism for the slow response of the state mechanism during the deadly East Attica fires.
Now new testimonies imply that Alexis Tsipras was aware that there were deaths during the meeting with competent officials on Monday night, but everyone at the table acted as if there was no information on fatal casualties.
The main opposition accuses the prime minister and his ministers of putting on a show at the meeting that took place at 11:40 pm at the operation center to discuss the progress of the efforts to rescue people of East Attica.
Ηοwever, on Sunday, Dimitris Stathopoulos –the head of the firefighters’ federation — spoke on Skai TV, saying that firemen discovered the first dead body at 20:40 and notified the National Center for First Aid (EKAV) immediately.
Stathopoulos criticized the government for downplaying the magnitude of the disaster and misinforming the public on the issue of deaths during the meeting.
In addition, Dimitris Baltakos, head of a coast guard rescue mission that helped people escape by sea, stated on Skai that his team discovered the first casualties “long before dark”.
“We spotted the first dead long before dark,” he said. “As the senior officer of the team, I immediately informed the military and political leadership of the ministry.”
President of the National Center for First Aid (EKAV) workers federation Giorgos Mathiopoulos confirmed the statement of the firemen’s unionist. “We received the first call for first aid at 18:30… and the first call for a dead person at 20:40,” he told Skai TV.
Finally, on Monday morning (today) the President of the Panhellenic Federation of Workers in Public Hospitals (POEDIN), Michalis Giannakos, spoke on Thema 104.6 FM saying that, “On Monday, July 23, I was at Sismanogleio (hospital) from 22:30 to 11:00 where they had prepared room for a large number of dead bodies to arrive. This was confirmed to me a day after the by the deputy director of the 1st Health District when I went back to Sismanogleio.”
Is it possible that none of the above authorities had informed the Fire Department, the Hellenic Police and the competent ministers who were present at the meeting?
Is it possible that all the above were informed, but they did not tell the prime minister? And if so, why?
What exactly was the reason this meeting was held when the Fire Department chief had said earlier that it was impossible to contain the fires and evacuate the coastal towns as the flames were moving at incredible speed and at unexpected direction?
A statement made by Shipping Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis to Thema 104.6 FM confirms that those present at the meeting knew of at least one dead. The minister said that they were informed about one dead person found but the competent officials did not evaluate the information as “safe”. Therefore, they did not mention any dead during the meeting.
So the question remains: Since all indications are that the prime minister and all competent officials knew about the fatal casualties, why did they keep it a secret from the Greek people that night?