Greek quake death tool hits 95, rescuers leaving

News and Press Release
Originally published
By Dina Kyriakidou

ATHENS, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Athens's quake-hit suburbs sprouted tent cities on Friday to shelter more than 16,000 people made homeless by a disaster that has killed at least 95 and left the Greek capital in shock.

With little expectation of finding more survivors, rescue teams from abroad prepared to leave after nearly three days of sifting through debris.

Tuesday's tremor, which measured 5.9 on the Richter scale and hit 18 km (11 miles) north of Athens, flattened a number of buildings and left thousands stranded in parks and squares.

Engineers painted a red or yellow cross on over 10,000 homes in the suburbs of Menidi, Liossia, Metamorphosi and Nea Philadelphia, indicating they were too dangerous to live in.

A green cross, meaning a house was solid enough to return to was painted on about 20 percent of homes inspected in these areas.

Turkish and Swiss rescue teams, among the first to arrive on the scene, prepared to leave on Friday after helping pull more than 100 people from collapsed buildings.

But hopes of finding more survivors faded as rescuers said no sounds were emanating from the rubble -- 35 people were still missing, according to the Fire Department.

Soldiers were putting up white army tents to house the homeless, some of whom had scuffled with authorities over a lack of tents on Thursday.

Rain storms added to the problems, forcing some people out of flooded tents after three heavy downpours since Wednesday while others tried to erect plastic shelters in the mud.

"Some 3,000 tents are on their way and a number of hotels have temporarily come under state control to shelter the homeless. Another 7,000 tents are already set up," said Dimitris Katrivanos, head of the state run Civil Protection Organisation.

Many people were reluctant to leave their damaged homes and take up the government's offer to put them in hotels or aboard cruise ships.

"I won't go anywhere. I have to wait for the engineers to check my house and then fill out many forms so as to be eligible for state help," said Argyris Dionysopoulos, pointing at his cracked house in Liosia.

"We also fear looting. The government should rush the tents to the victims and cut the red tape if it wants to help," he said.

The tremor flattened a detergent factory, a home appliances showroom and two apartment buildings.

Officials said they feared the death toll would exceed 100. The Health and Welfare Ministry said 1,600 people had been treated in hospitals, and 380 were still there.

Finance ministry sources said the cost of the quake could be in the region of 100 billion drachmas ($324 million).

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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