“Evacuation could have been ordered. A rescue could be done with dudukes, this simple: for the firefighters to enter the settlement and for the people to leave,” testified the Fire Department officer Giannis Kostas.
“I am here in court to testify because 104 people were lost. An evacuation could have been ordered. There could be a rescue with dudukes, this simple: let the firemen enter the settlement and the people could leave” the Fire Department official testified Yannis Kostas who was called to manage the fire that consumed the Eye, leaving behind a hundred dead, in the trial for the tragedy.
The then commander of the 12th PS of Athens, deputy fire chief Ioannis Kostas, testified about the fire of July 23, 2018 in Eastern Attica and about those that did not happen as a result of which a situation that could have been dealt with turned into one of the biggest tragedies on a global level .
The witness told the court that he, like the judicial expert witness Dimitris Liotsios, has been sued by a defendant for the tragedy with the aim, as he pointed out, “to intimidate us and reduce our credibility in court.”
According to the officer’s assessment, the lack of air support actually allowed the fire to grow: “If three, four air planes had arrived until half past five, the fire would not have reached Voujas either” he pointed out.
At the same time, the officer said that since the previous day, his service had been aware of all the elements of the danger and therefore we owed, as he said, “to man the vehicles at our station in a state of heightened readiness.”
Describing minute by minute the situation he was asked to deal with, Mr. Kostas testified that after the fire in Kineta he was asked for and provided vehicles he had for surveillance and patrolling which he took care to replace in time.
“That day I saw from the morning that there was no aerial to do preventive aerial surveillance due to the high degree of danger. Thcould the aircraft detect the smoke and to strike the fire in its genesis so that it does not become uncontrollable…” he stressed, saying that he was desperately asking for an aerial to help the fire. As he testified, he said, “Center, we need reinforcements in ground forces and aerial means. The fire is in the vicinity of the houses and is going to the mountain” “in vain”.
The witness’ account in court of those first moments was indicative of the omissions that cost lives: “At that time I had eight volunteer vehicles and one with a permanent firefighter with a capacity of only five hundred liters. At 17:07 I called and said that we have a problem and we need reinforcements. At 17:11 the air force came and fired a shot and we cheered because the fire, as we say in our language, “sat”. And we thought we were going to keep her. As long as other aerial vehicles were coming. Unfortunately they didn’t come! At 5:20 p.m. the fire had entered the Pantokrator monastery in Daou. By 17:30 the fire had now become uncontrollable. There were no aerials. Madam President, an aerial has arrived. It never came again. If three, four air planes had arrived until half past five, the fire would not have reached Vujja either. The fire was ongoing but not out of control.” said the officer who remained at the front until the evening of the following day.
The witness sensationally told the court that when he looked for evidence to draw up a report on the fire, he found that there were inaccurate data in the Engage system, the software that records the location and movement of Fire Department vehicles. According to Mr. Kostas, he informed competently that the public prosecutor should also be aware of the inaccuracies that existed. The prosecutor. however, as the officer testified, he was not informed by his superiors and thus “for me it was a one-way street: I reported it to the prosecutor and Liotsios.”
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