Alexandra Nitsotoli, who lost her mother in the fire, testified that when she went to find her mother who was alone in her house in Mati, “in Marathon I didn’t see police cars, fire engines, sirens. Nothing.”
Stories of agony and pain are described at the trial for the tragedy in Mati the people who lost their loved ones in the flames, without any help from the state apparatus, as they say.
“We were not helped, there was no plan, the state was absent” reported a witness who lost his wife, while he himself was burned and had to be hospitalized for three weeks.
“I stayed 3 weeks in Sismanoglio. I couldn’t go to my wife’s funeral. I can’t say anything more than great pain. People don’t turn around. This is the great tragedy that could have been avoided,” said Christos Politis.
“When the fire arrived and we were burning, my wife was in the house next door and didn’t have time to get out. The fire had surrounded us. I thought I might have time to go to the officers and get help. I went out to Marathon and there was fire everywhere. I started walking towards the sea. A five minute drive, I took an hour. I reached the sea. It was not possible to get down from the steps that were there, I went further and found myself in the sea. There, with the help of a man, whom I thank, I was able to cross and get out, and a Fire Department car picked me up and took me to Rafina and from there to Sismanoglio,” said the witness.
Shortly before, when his daughter was testifying, Mr. Politis heard the accused, from the Fire Department, say that this was the man who had helped him out of the sea.
“I collected Mr. Politis. Sorry for the interruption. I got excited nowa. Is he alive? I had collected him, he was hidden. He was afraid,” said the defendant.
The daughter of the witness, Kalliopi Politis, in her testimony described the difficult decision she made when speaking on the phone with her father, while the fire was approaching, she indicated to him not to look for her mother anymore and to leave. “Dad was screaming on the phone “help us, we’re burning. I can’t find your mom” – said the witness. “Then I made a decision to signal him to leave. My mother tried to leave, to take the car. He had to travel 70-80 meters. It turned out to be fatal… Dad… I told him to go to the sea. He walked 1.5 kilometers. How could I have known… He reached the sea. He has a lot of heat burns. At 88, it is unimaginable how he managed it. He didn’t meet anyone. When all this was happening, despite the efforts to find help, we were not heard. I was begging them to send someone to Marathon. Then I realized that the ships had been emptied. There was a fire and they let them down… I found a fireman and he was trying to show me a way to get home. I met my brother and until ten at night we were moving near the Red Port. I saw a dead man down there. I thought she had passed out. He was a policeman who had “played it”. At some point they opened the road and we reached the house. The condition is not described. I cheered up when I saw one of our dogs alive. We passed by my mother many times. We didn’t understand her. It was charred. We were on Marathon Avenue. It never crossed our minds that lives would be lost. Some of our friends had arranged days before to go to Rafina for kite surfing because they knew it would be windy. The municipality should have cleaned up, there should have been fire trucks there.”
At the end of their testimony, the two witnesses spoke for a while with the defendant from the Fire Department who had helped Mr. Politis.
Alexandra Nitsotoli, who lost her mother in the fire, testified that when she went to find her mother who was alone in her house in Mati, “in Marathon I did not see police cars, fire engines, sirens. Nothing. There was no mobilization. I didn’t even hear aerial vehicles. At one point I talked to my mother and she said to me: “Shut up, shut up so I can get dressed to leave.” And that was the last conversation I had with my mom.” The woman described the hours of utter agony she spent searching for her mother, who she eventually found charred to death in her home the next morning. “My Golgotha was to keep looking to find my mom. The phone calls were constant… I couldn’t find her anywhere. Then with friendly faces, we went home to find my mom. I saw the car completely burnt… I approach trembling…. He was not at home. We leave again because there were other fires. During the night we turned again. My relatives had gone to all the hospitals on call. Then I went to the port of Rafina and waited for the boats in case I found my mother. I happily went home again, where I had been three more times throughout the evening. That’s where I found my mom.”
In his own testimony, Savvas Papaioannou, who lost his brother and daughter-in-law, said that the couple’s child was saved because her mother told her to run. “She stayed behind to help my brother… My brother died immediately, his wife 20 days later because she had third degree burns all over her body, and she was betrayed by the heart.”
The witness emphasized that “on July 23 we have the following: There was a fire in Kineta. An order was given to fly there and thus the eastern side of Attica was left fragile and unfortified. It was a crucial mistake. That is why the fire in Mati took this turn and end. The agencies did not deal with the situation properly.”
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