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Pissouri landslide: the living hell

As the landslide in Pissouri gains momentum destroying everything in its path more residents are living in hell in the village once described by Gordon Honeycombe as being on ‘The Edge of Heaven’.

Pissouri landslide: the living hell THERE IS overwhelming evidence in a report by internationally respected geological, geotechnical and geomorphological engineers that peoples’ homes (and their health), roads and other infrastructure are being destroyed by an active landslide in the Limnes and other areas to the south of Pissouri.

I met with lawyer Elina Zoi and Artemios Papageorgiou (a geotechnical engineer) on Thursday with and spent three hours with them visiting the most affected areas. I was shocked to see how much destruction the landslide had caused since my last visit. It looked more like a war zone than a residential area on ‘The Edge of Heaven’.

The landslide is gathering momentum; between 22nd December and 21st January land movements of 30cm were recorded in some areas.

Many dozens of properties have been damaged; some so seriously that they have been deemed uninhabitable and their owners evicted for their own safety.

close to collapse

Other homes looked extremely unsafe and on the brink of collapse. In two I visited, people had moved to a small part of the house that had not been so badly damaged. Another two had voids under the reinforced concrete foundations leaving enough space for a person to crawl.

As well as British expatriates there are many Cypriots with property in the area; some live there permanently, others have holiday homes and apartments.

I saw workmen patching a road within 50 metres of the  amphitheatre which, as yet, has been unaffected. Another was filling a crack that had appeared in a field with earth. The Electricity Authority and CYTA were also trying to make good damaged electricity cables and telephone lines.

I visited the home of a Cypriot family with two young children, which they’d bought for €265,000; damaged by the landslide they asked the bank for a valuation. The property was valued at €17,000 less €11,000 to remove the rubble, leaving them with €6,000 – and their heartless bank reminded them that they would still have to repay their mortgage.

I dread to think what could happen to those living in the area if there’s an earthquake or if the recent torrential rain causes the landslide to accelerate.

I was relieved to read that at long last the government is going to compensate families that have been forced to leave their homes. And I’m sure that many more families will be forced to leave when their homes become uninhabitable.

I trust that the government compensates families by providing them with a monetary sum or housing to the same value as the properties they were forced to leave – and not just cover the rent until they pass away. The banks could also help in this respect by providing properties that they have repossessed.

immediate action needed

But the government must act quickly. During the winter of 2001-2002, a landslide destroyed three newly-built homes on the northeast outskirts of Pissouri. Eighteen years later compensation claims by the victims are still in court.

During my visit I took photographs of some of the damage caused by the landslide, which I have compiled into a video (see below).

Readers' comments

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  • Jeremy Rigg says:

    I feel so desperately sorry for these effected people, but having lived here for 20 years now I will only believe the compensation when it is put in their hands.

  • Jack Montego says:

    Unfortunately all those people will have to deal with the problems derived due to land sliding alone without any help whatsoever.
    Cyprus government is so corrupted that don’t try to solve national matters not minor to them problems.

    “During the winter of 2001-2002, a landslide destroyed three newly-built homes on the northeast outskirts of Pissouri. Eighteen years later compensation claims by the victims are still in court.”

    This is exactly what we’d say in 20 years from today for all the others that face the same problem today.

  • Antony Walker says:

    Storm, flood and earthquake are insurable risks in Cyprus, landslide is not.

    As the editor states the land was stable. One expert estimates that the land was stable for 20,000 years.

  • sky says:

    Aren’t those people insured against natural disasters such as earthquakes, storms, landslides, etc?

    Ed: There wasn’t any sign of the landslide in the past so there was no reason to insure against it – some houses have been there for thirty years without problems. Once the symptoms started to show themselves it would have been impossible to get cover. My home insurance includes earthquake cover, but not landslides (and given the many landslides in Cyprus I’m not sure you could get insurance cover.)

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