A fifty-year-old man and his 16-year-old nephew were killed instantly on Thursday while trying to empty a wine storage tank in Crete, Heraklion. The tragedy happened within just a few seconds.
Two relatives had to clean the tank of sediment after the wine was drained from it. But the poisonous fumes led to the death of both. The young man was the first to descend into the huge tank, but after a few seconds he lost consciousness. Uncle called for help and went downstairs to help him. Unfortunately, it took the same few seconds for the man to pass out too.
It’s just a miracle that none of those who rushed to see what was happening tried to get into the tank – there could have been more victims. Attempts to cut the bottom of the tank to get the relatives out took precious few minutes, after which it was too late.
Thassos Vrencos, president of the Association of Traditional Distillers of Tsikudia (Heraklion), says that it was enough to pour water into the tank before cleaning, which would save lives. He explained that everything took place in the warehouse, and the deceased man had nothing to do with the production of tsikoudia (brandy). He explained that the sediment, after draining the liquid, continues to release vapors during fermentation, and the lid on the tank helped carbon dioxide accumulate there:
“Three to four seconds is enough to pass out, fall into a coma and suffocate.”
He explained the tragic incident by a banal ignorance of technology, all experts are well aware of the need to pour water before cleaning the container. He also drew attention to the inadmissibility of using minors in such work.
Community President Manolis Drettakis says:
“What happened to the family and the whole village is a tragedy. Unfortunately, two of our beloved fellow villagers left so unjustly and suddenly. As far as I understand, they transferred tsikoudia from one tank to another. The 16-year-old Christ was on the stairs holding a rubber hose that was used to transport tsikoudia from one tank to another. The vapors made him dizzy, causing – instead of falling to the ground – his body leaned forward and fell into a three-meter tank with a large hole. When his uncle Marinos Goumenakis realized what had happened, he went to his aid, but in vain. “