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‘Individuals really feel unprotected’: Greeks lose religion in state after Storm Daniel and a summer season of wildfires Categorical Instances

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The whiff of loss of life permeates the as soon as fertile plain of Thessaly. 13 days could have elapsed since Storm Daniel pummelled Greece – a prelude to the deadly descent it will make on Libya – however even now, because the flood waters slowly recede, households bury family members and the authorities start to catalogue the size of the destruction, it’s clear the agricultural coronary heart of the nation has been devastated past recognition.

What stays is a damaged land, rain-sodden and bruised, lined with the detritus of all that fell foul of the storm, animate and inanimate, fish, birds, bees, canines, cats, livestock, buildings, bridges and roads.

This weekend, Greek troopers in masks and protecting fits had been frantically amassing carcasses for mass incineration. Greater than 200,000 animals perished within the storms, officers say, and with fears of outbreaks of infectious illness, there’s a race towards time to take away putrefying stays from farms and pens in areas steadily described as impassable.

“The stench is insufferable,” one reporter instructed viewers on state-run tv. “And it hangs over Thessaly.”

Not less than 17 folks misplaced their lives in floods whose waters proceed to submerge fields of cotton and corn, villages and cities in a thick layer of mud and sludge.

After Daniel’s devastating impression on Libya – the place the loss of life toll has surpassed 11,000 – Greeks are counting their blessings. However anger can be mounting. In a area hit by a ferocious Mediterranean cyclone, or “medicane”, named Ianos, precisely three years in the past on Monday, fury is widespread that just about no flood prevention measures had been taken even when most settle for that this month’s storms, energised by a summer season of unprecedented warmth, had not occurred in a number of hundred years. The downpours unleashed by Daniel had been the worst since data started within the Nineteen Thirties.

“You could possibly name it the proper storm,” Greece’s main climatologist, Prof Christos Zerefos, instructed the Observer. “Locked between two meteorological programs it stood nonetheless, unable to maneuver from west to east, taking its vitality from the ever-warmer sea and [dumping] the equal of a yr’s rain on Thessaly in two days.”

At 80 years outdated, Zerefos has lengthy been finding out altering climate patterns on the Academy of Athens’ analysis centre for atmospheric physics and climatology. He’s the primary to say that Daniel was “a really uncommon” excessive climate occasion, a storm whose magnitude he didn’t suppose he would ever see.

However what worries Zerefos is with the environment so destabilised by a altering local weather Ianos will not be a one-off. “The Ianos medicane price about one fifth of the injury [predicted from] Daniel,” he mentioned. “What frightens me is that we’ll have extra occasions like Ianos, say each 4 or 5 years, which might not solely be extremely harmful however very pricey.”

With so many in Greece’s agricultural heartland dealing with monetary smash – livestock restoration alone is anticipated to take years – the centre-right authorities of Kyriakos Mitsotakis has been placed on the defensive.

After a summer season of devastating wildfires – together with a blaze described as Europe’s largest after ravaging an space the dimensions of New York Metropolis within the north-eastern area of Evros – there are rising public issues that state authorities are ill-equipped to take care of pure disasters in part of the world already singled out as a local weather emergency hotspot. The sight of hapless residents in Thessaly being rescued by volunteers earlier than civil safety items might get to them has strengthened the picture of official incompetence.

An image taken with a drone exhibits a flooded space in Thessaly on 15 September. {Photograph}: EPA

On Thursday the polling firm Metron Evaluation, releasing its first survey of public opinion after the floods, famous that 61% of respondents had a destructive opinion of the federal government’s work, versus 57% in Might. For the primary time since Mitsotakis, who received a second four-year time period in June, assumed energy, analysts have begun to talk of the nation resembling a “failed state”.

“There’s a prevalent feeling that Greece is a failed state, that it can not meet our expectations or [global] challenges,” mentioned Maria Karaklioumi, a political analyst on the polling firm Rass. “When Mitsotakis first got here to energy [in 2019] he promised that the nation and state would work higher and that hasn’t occurred.”

Likening Greek sentiment to the backlash towards US president George W Bush, whose repute was badly hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, she added: “Individuals proper now really feel unprotected and deserted. After the floods and fires, any sense of safety that the state ought to provide has evaporated.”

Late on Saturday, in his first annual keynote financial speech since re-election, Mitsotakis emphasised that he wouldn’t solely spotlight challenges posed by the local weather emergency – saying native and EU-funded reduction measures for these hit by the floods – however forge forward with structural adjustments to a system that has clearly laboured beneath the strain of coping with successive disasters.

With the wildfires and floods anticipated to weigh on an economic system in any other case doing nicely within the aftermath of Greece’s close to decade-long debt disaster, the local weather, greater than another potential foe has, after Daniel’s passing, clearly turn into the chief’s public enemy primary.

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