April 13, 2024

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EDIT: “We knew about the dead when the press conference was held,” then-Fire Chief Derzoudis admitted.

EDIT: “We knew about the dead when the press conference was held,” then-Fire Chief Derzoudis admitted.

The head of the fire department at the time, Sothiris Dersotis, admitted during the ESKE press conference on the terrible fire in Matti, in the presence of Alexis Tsipras, that the fire department staff knew of the dead.

During his testimony in the three-judge criminal court, the defendant, responding to questions from the district attorney, said he received information about the discovery of bodies at the fire hydrant on July 23, 2018 at 7:54 p.m.

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  • Solicitor: At the press conference you held that night, did you know about the dead?
  • Accused: Yes, we know of some dead people.

“This event was huge. The fire service has never faced such a tragic outcome,” said Mr. Derzoudis argued during his testimony, which was interrupted for nearly a month and a half due to prosecutors' vote, and called the fatal fire a “national tragedy.” “

He said firefighting regulations were followed to the letter, but the timing and progress of the incident did not allow for an evacuation.

Referring to the relatives of the victims, many of whom were spectators, Mr. Derzoudis said: “I don't want to say anything about the relatives of the victims. Whatever you say, you don't ease their pain. I prefer silence.”

Asked by counsel if he had identified operational errors, he replied: “We need to know exactly what happened in the assessment department. That's not to say business mistakes don't exist. Aviation assets were accumulated. The fire, due to the prevailing conditions, could not be contained. People can only leave if they have data. And again I am tormented and tormented by all this. It marked me. My life has changed.”

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The changes made by the government after every major disaster Mr. Dersotis noted:

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“After a tragedy like this, change is needed. Another unspeakable tragedy happened in Ilya in 2007. Then the government came and added an organized removal of citizens. Until then it was not there. It had to be Ilya. In 2018 it becomes an eye. Another unspeakable tragedy. And in 2007 The government came and legislated what it did not do. It initially accepted the action, but it did not accept how organized disposal would be done. Then it forced municipalities and regions to draw up plans for organized preventive disposal. And he gave an 18-month extension, and we are in 2024. The Secretariat came, April In 2023, the fire brigade sends out a circular with guidelines for organized decommissioning with the help of the police, EKAV and the port authority.. You will see that there are also shelters to implement the action. I asked if those plans have been filed, but I have not been told yet. When neither plan fits, there is improvisation. And sometimes it leads to the opposite of intended results.”

The program of the then government about Mathi

It is recalled that at the time of his death on July 23, 2018, the Tsipras government set up a communication program.

Meeting at the business center

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Shortly before midnight, Alexis Tsipras, who had just returned from Bosnia, went to the fire operations center.

The Kanmai fire has been burning since noon already. Dozens have died. Rafina's mayor shouts it into the channels. But in the Prime Minister's meeting with fire chiefs and competent ministers, there was no discussion of the dead. As if they didn't exist. Instead, the fire chief and civil defense minister tell the prime minister that the frontline is in recession. Some houses are burning…, but everyone's efforts are to save people. Not a word about losses.

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Everyone assures Alexis Tsipras that all measures have been taken – in fact everything has been destroyed in Matti, a hundred people are already dead and mourned – ministers talk about rescuing people from the sea by the coast guard, collecting points. For the town hall and the population at the spiritual center in Mati, it has already turned to ashes. They describe a virtual reality. For lens needs only. Everyone used to talk about how the flights would move the next day. As if nothing happened.

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The sensational interview

A press conference was arranged 24 hours later for obvious reasons.

But there, while everyone was expecting an “apology” for the dead or an admission of the state apparatus's incompetence, government spokesman Dimitris Sanakopoulos, the deputy minister of civil protection and the police and fire chiefs said they had done everything right.

Interviewees said they were “proud” of their handling, saying they had done nothing wrong. Nikos Toskas, then Minister of Civil Protection, said in that interview: “There are no acts without mistakes, the time of registration will come. But you have to take into account the adverse weather, such strong winds, fires close to each other, crowds of people. I try to find mistakes for reasons of conscience, But I don't see any major flaws in the process.”

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Press conference of Toska-Tzanakopoulos and leaders of ELAS and the Fire Department

Mr. Toskas was perplexed by the journalist's question about how it was possible for them to declare that they were happy and that they wouldn't have done anything else. On Monday night's meeting with the prime minister or whether they remained silent on the situation, he replied: I don't understand your point. We are not hiding anything under any circumstances. We are not here to say that everything went well. Obviously there will be mistakes and they will be investigated. From here, efforts must be recognized. Many were saved by the self-sacrifice of firefighters, police and volunteers. I don't think “thank you'' should be said because of such great losses.

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“There are no missing persons, there are searches”

As for the exact number of missing persons, the Deputy Minister of Civil Defense insisted, “There are no missing persons, there are searches”. He said there were examples of people listed as missing, such as two British tourists who “we were looking here and they took a flight and went to Britain”.

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Tzanakopoulos: No time to evacuate

Regarding the evacuation, a government spokesman said there was no timing. “Comparing the evacuation of a settlement of 15,000-20,000 people to the evacuation of a camp of 200 is inappropriate and ill-timed,” he said: “The event that caused the tragedy was so rapid that it was impossible. To evacuate the settlement . It is humanly impossible to carry out such a plan. It must be different.” We want that. I was convinced by the fire department that it wasn't possible.”

Firefighter: “I wouldn't have done anything else”

When asked about this, the then head of the fire department, Sothiris Tersoudis, replied: “I wouldn't do anything differently, because I can't do anything else.”

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