Lack of early warning, town planning led to high death toll, study finds
Authorities' failure to issue a timely warning about the approaching wildfire that scorched the town of Mati, a popular tourist resort 17 miles east of Athens, left "almost zero time between realizing the danger and reacting to it," according to a preliminary inquiry into the deadly inferno released Tuesday by the University of Athens.
Researchers found that the narrow streets and numerous dead-ends that blocked off escape routes to the sea, as well as the absence of large public spaces in Mati, an area built up with no town planning, also contributed to the high death toll. Their findings were backed up by images taken during an inspection of the area's fire-hit buildings and neighborhoods.
Access to the sea was worsened by the morphology of the coastline, experts said. "This [fact] combined with low visibility and a choking atmosphere largely led to a high...