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Greece holds major disaster response training exercise

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Greece is holding a three-day disaster exercise on the tourist island of Crete with both visitors and operators stressing the need to prepare for emergencies, including quakes and fires.

The civil protection ministry said the three-day exercise named Minoas, which concludes on Wednesday, is the largest held in the country.

The scenarios included tsunamis, industrial accidents and tourist rescues.

“The feeling of safety is very important to us, our associates and our customers,” Nikos Vlasiadis, general manager of a five-star hotel near Iraklio, told AFP.

The hotel on Tuesday took part in a simulation exercise responding to a 7.2-magnitude earthquake emergency.

A day earlier, a similar scenario involving a 6.4-magnitude undersea earthquake had played out in the city of Hania.

“Things have changed and we need to be ready,” said Vlasiadis, fake blood streaming down his face.

“The purpose is to highlight problems so they can be addressed,” Efthymios Lekkas, head of Greece’s earthquake planning and protection organisation (OASP), told AFP.

More than 160,000 residents are participating including some 80,000 schoolchildren, Lekkas said.

A 4.9-magnitude tremor struck the island last August, following a 5.1-magnitude quake in May 2023.

“Tourists are not obliged to know (what to do in the event of an earthquake). Hotels must have (emergency) plans,” Lekkas said.

Over 32 million people visited Greece last year, setting a new arrivals record in a season marked by a prolonged heatwave and some of the worst wildfires in the country’s history that forced evacuations on the tourist islands of Rhodes and Corfu.

Ronni Aram, a tourist from Germany taking part in the drill, said it was “absolutely essential when it comes to the case of a real emergency that everyone is prepared and knows what to do so that everyone will be safe”.

“Caring is preparing,” added fellow German Yan Kiese.

Greece is highly susceptible to earthquakes, being situated on several geological fault lines.

Two people died on the island of Samos in October 2020 from a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in the Aegean Sea that also killed over 100 people in the coastal Turkish city of Izmir.

The Greek government earlier this month offered compensation to tourists evacuated from wildfires on the holiday island of Rhodes last year so they can stay there again.


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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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