At the Mati fire trial, there is no end to the dramatic testimonies: people who lost loved ones in the fire tell how, alone and helpless, they tried to find the bodies of their relatives.
Everyone complained about “chaos, disorganization and disorganization”, testifying to their pain, which cannot be consoled.
Panayota Malainou testified with tears in her eyes about the loss of her 73-year-old mother, noting that she had to travel twice before she could identify her body. “I went to the port authority to ask about my mother. They said she was dead, they found an ID in her bag. I searched all night in the burnt place, in the area where they found 26 people. They searched for about eight or nine hours her. They couldn’t identify her. She died of smoke poisoning. I went to the identification twice,” she said.
“I lost my mother, she was the mainstay of the house. Like every summer, she came to Mati with her grandson. When they saw the fire, they began to go away to the sea. She took her granddaughter Irini and went to friends who had a car “to go to Athens. But their car got stuck in a traffic jam on the infamous ‘death road’. They were forced to go to Argyra Akti,” Malaynu testified.
A line of cars stuck on what would later be called the death road. The culprit is a police traffic controller who sent almost a hundred cars down a narrow and winding road.
She added, “They went into the water to be saved.” Burning objects fell on their bodies and heads. The wave swept in like a broom and pulled them in. They were taken by a private boat. Irene is half dead. She has been followed up by child psychiatrists ever since.
In turn, Evangelos Kostopoulos referred to the loss of his own mother, whom he found dead in the backyard of their house in Kokkino Limanaki. “She suffered from the heat, her body was mummified,” said the witness, who explained that his father had to be hospitalized for 2.5 months, as he received burns to his face, arms and legs.
“I tried to enter Kokkino Limanaki, but was stopped by the flames. At some point, I drove past it, and there was a lot of smoke. The fire passed through the area and reached the sea. Houses and cars were burned, but were still burning. In Kokkino Limanaki, I saw a woman burned to death in a campsite. A man stood next to her and looked at her, frozen in place, he clearly could not believe what he was seeing. The woman’s body looked like charcoal. The view was terrifying, “- he said.
He added: “I ran out from behind our house. There, as I knew, my mother was sitting. She was lying on the ground, she died. She was burned from the heat, her body was mummified. I tried to get closer, but I could not … I I fell down, lay there for ten minutes, I don’t remember what my father said to me. I don’t remember how long after I got up. My father shouted in the house that the kitchen was on fire. They managed to drag me into the house, there was a lot of smoke. My father was lying on the floor, he had burns on his arms and legs, the only car that didn’t burn was ours, it looked like hail had hit it, I put my father on my back, put him in the car, and we started off. on the way. Fortunately, the keys were in his pocket. On the way, we came across fallen trees, but they did not interfere. We headed towards Rafina. Father was in very bad condition. First we went to the Sotiriya hospital, and then to ” Evangelismos”. There he was immediately intubated. His arms, legs and face were burned. We are trying to recover from that day…”.
“Consolation is that he didn’t suffer”
Evangelos Hamilothoris lost his son in the fire, he said that his wife could not bear the pain and died of a heart attack. “My wife and I saw on TV that a fire had started. My son was at work and returned at 6 o’clock. We talked and he told me:“ They dragged us into the fire. ”At that moment there was a noise, and our communication interrupted. After that, we did not communicate. After an hour, we decided to go and see what was happening,” he said.
He added: “We went to the Nea Makri police station. We asked about the victims, and they told us that there was no such information. We went there, but we couldn’t get inside and turned around. Relatives said that they brought survivors to Nea Makri and Rafina We went to Nea Makri where we were informed that “no survivors are brought here, only to Rafina”. We went to Rafina, there was no news. This went on until the morning. Then we were informed that the last ship with survivors had arrived “From that moment our Calvary began. I asked in hospitals and police stations about my son, but to no avail. My daughter gave me biological materials for a DNA test. They called me for identification. As I understand it, his body was found, but we “They didn’t say that. The next day we got a call to collect our son’s body. The coroner and medical examiner said my son was not suffering. First he passed out from the smoke and then suffered severe burns. It was a kind of consolation m for us. My son is trapped on death roadwhere many died. He probably heard that the fire was moving towards Agios Petro and decided to drive along the Marathon. They were led along this road. There were cars that went to Nea Makri and from Nea Makri to Rafina.”
“All my belongings are in the bag”
“My late wife was disabled. She was lying on the bed, I took care of her. She had multiple sclerosis. On the day of the fire, I had to take her to the fund, but I did not have time,” Panagiotis Manetas, himself a victim of burns and underwent many operations. The testimony of Hector Diamantidis and his stepfather Georgios Kairis, who lost their mother and wife in the fire, was dramatic.
“Seeing your mother carried out dead in an orange sack is not the most pleasant thing…” Ektoras Diamantidis told the court: “Do you know what I have left of my wife, your honor? This is… (he points to bench and shows me a small bag). This is all that remains of the love of my life. This is what she was wearing. Here is her watch. My property is this bag and nothing else.”
“I’m running for my life, I’m on fire.”
Hector Diamantidis told the court, among other things, the following: “I am a nurse. I read about the fire at Dau Penteli. I initially thought they would put it out, as they always do. When I saw it moving towards Kallitechnoupoli, I started calling Mom, but she did not answer. Around 6:40 she answered. I realized that something was wrong. Shouts were heard in the receiver: “Hector, I’m running for my life, I’m all on fire,” she shouted. I called my mother’s brother. “I tried to find my mother and stepfather. Nothing. I could not contact the fire department or the police. Nobody answered. They were all absent. Around nine o’clock in the evening I managed to find my stepfather. In a trembling voice, he told me to be strong “My mother died in the house. I had a panic attack, I asked him to give it to me to talk to her,” he also said.
“Sense of Shame”
Georgios Keiris, the widower and stepfather of Hector Diamantidis, said: “At about 5:15 we heard that the fire had moved to Dau Penteli. I returned home, put the car in the garage. I told our neighbors, “We’re on fire.” They had a 3-month-old baby… We called everyone, the dogs were trained, they immediately got into the car. Tanya asked me to come into the house for her things. Jewelry, money and documents. I got out of the car and went into the house, but I didn’t see her. I called all the time: “Tanya, Tanya.” I thought she must have come out from the other side of the house. At that moment, I realized that everything around me was on fire. There was no water, it was turned off… Everything around became black. Day turned into night. There was no one there. I was burned with heat, I could not enter the house. An image appeared in my head of how I take steps in the air and call Tanya, while my voice does not break.
The witness spoke about his attempts to get help. But there was nothing, he said, no police, no fire brigade, no one from the municipality, and he recalled the moments when he found his wife dead: “We entered the house … I screamed and the fireman pulled me out. . .. She was helpless for an hour. Some people at the time we were on fire went for a walk with friends and were going to drink coffee until they found out what happened. “
Another witness, Andreas Manetas, noted: “After all this, I had nowhere to stay. I slept for four days in a car. I went to the cultural center in Nea Makri to buy underwear. Absolute humiliation. And there was a man and two ladies, who allowed us to stay at the hotel for free. That’s what the state should have done. This shameful state should have thought of providing graves for free so that there is no exhumation. Do you understand that the exhumation has already begun? […] The camps were evacuated at 5 o’clock. There was no one to say: “Are you leaving?”
Mr. Manetas also recalled: “Suddenly we heard about a fire that had ignited in Penteli. The owner of the house who received us told us to leave. How could we leave? And my wife had problems with her legs. I went out and saw a man with hose that was trying to get out. I saw two fire trucks coming down. And a police car. And no one stopped to tell us anything. They just waved me off, as if they were waving at me. I went home. Fire was 20 or 30 meters from my house. I put my wife in the cart, Mrs. Vasiliki also helped. We walked 30 meters. A private person came with a van and we asked for help to put our wife in the cart. How can we lift a person weighing 100 kilograms and 1.80 meters high? The fire was getting closer. I say to Mrs. Vasiliki: “You go away.” My whole body began to burn. I thought about how to save the woman. I remained calm. I do not know where I am found courage in myself, I took her in my arms and carried her into the house, where there was a narrow gap, and kept her there. I prayed and God heard me. He brought two angels to me. Two guys. It was off-duty cops who came and found us. They saved us. And they saved 20 or 30 people.”
“There was no information from anyone,” he complained. “There was nothing, nothing. We pay all taxes. Shouldn’t they have helped us? God saved me. They left us to our fate. I had two surgeries. I can’t unclench my arms. I have two more surgeries to do on each arm. I can’t walk properly The fire didn’t touch me It was 400 degree Celsius hot gas burns If I was in contact with fire I would melt I have health problems with my hands and nerves due to burns. I seek justice for their negligence and hope that this will never happen again.”