Greek gov’t promises more relief measures on one year anniversary of deadly wildfire

A year after the devastating fire in Mati, a seaside town in the east coast of the Attica region, hundreds of Greeks reflected the national tragedy on Tuesday, hoping that such a disaster would never happen again.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis attended the memorial service held for the fire victims in the area, along with other representatives of the state and relatives of the people who lost their lives.

On July 23, 2018, one of the worst natural disasters of recent decades took place in Greece, leaving 102 people dead, dozens of others injured, hundreds of houses destroyed and one of the most beautiful holiday resorts of Attica, burnt to the ground. Several people drowned just off the coast, as they were trying to get away from the intense heat.

The wildfire has been blamed on a mix of adverse weather conditions, bad urban planning and a series of mistakes in the handling of the crisis. Kinetta, a seaside settlement west of Athens, also suffered damage in a separate blaze earlier in the same day.

As Greece still mourns, Mitsotakis committed himself in unblocking the 31 million euros (34.7 million U.S. dollars) dedicated to the fire victims that have been trapped for a year in the Special Assistance Account of the state.

After the tragedy, 37.8 million euros have been deposited in this Special Account by 2,770 natural or legal persons. One year later, 31 million euros remain blocked.

In his final address to the Parliament before his government received the vote of confidence on Monday evening, the Greek prime minister announced a series of measures to help the area and the victims.

Among others, the individuals who suffered serious burns will be granted free medical attention and the drugs they need for treatment after reports of shortages, more than 4,300 residents who lost their homes will also be absolved from having to pay property tax for the next five years and another 20 million euros (22.4 million U.S. dollars) will be allocated to efforts to rebuild parts of the damaged area.

To commemorate the tragedy, residents of the affected area, also gathered and walked in the “streets of the fire”, ending up silently at the port of Mati, reading the names of the dead. Later, they planted along the street, 15 cypresses, dedicated to the lost.

On Monday, actors and musicians who live in the towns of East Attica that were hit by the deadly fire, organized a memorial concert. (1 euro =1.12 U.S. dollars)