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Pissouri landslide victims offered no compensation

Interior Minister reported to be angry with British victims of Pissouri landslide for complaining to the Cypriot and British media and offers no compensation to those affected; many homes now unfit for habitation.

Pissouri landslide victims offered no compensation

Photo credit Daily Mail: Some of the Pissouri landslide victims whose homes are being destroyed.

INTERIOR minister Constantinos Petrides visited the area of Pissouri on Thursday morning where an ongoing landslide has destroyed dozens of properties but underlined that no compensation from the government would be forthcoming to affected owners whose homes have been deemed too dangerous to live in.

Elina Zoi, a lawyer representing a group of the affected homeowners, confirmed that Petrides said that the only way for compensation would be through litigation.

“The minister said that unless the courts decided compensation was due, there is no chance of this for homeowners. I explained that they wanted to try a political solution first, many are elderly and they know they may not be around when a decision is made if they take court action,” she told the Cyprus Mail.

She added that when a minister is so clear there is ‘no other choice’ and legal action is now something to be seriously considered. The lawyer said she will now discuss with her clients who wants to start this procedure.

No insurance company will insure against landslide damage and the properties were all built by different developers.

According to Zoi, Petrides and members of the geological survey department, members of Pissouri council and other ministry employees, got a panoramic view of the area from a hilltop. This was followed by a meeting held at a taverna in the square.

The minister said that a survey would be undertaken of the area, with initial results in March or April 2020, but before that, work would be undertaken to prevent progression of the phenomenon.

“The minister did not wish to share the measures just yet, as the relevant parties had only held their first meeting earlier this morning and no decisions have been made,” she said.

However, these preventive measures will aim to ‘support the area’, ie. a hill, which as yet is unaffected.

She added that officials will examine documents from a tender and decide if they will proceed with the company in September/October. This company will then have four months to prepare a preliminary report as to what measures can be taken and propose two or three possible solutions, she said.

“I find this very strange to take measures before a study is done. First the investigation should take place and then the measures introduced,” said Andreas Evlavis of the Paphos Green party.

Many of the affected homes have virtually collapsed; the result of a continuous and accelerating landslide and many homes are now deemed unfit for habitation. Homes and gardens are ripped apart, walls and pools are collapsing and roads split, buckled and impassable.

Desperate homeowners have long pleaded with the government for help, but to no avail. In 2015, the then minister, Socratis Hasikos, said it was the government’s duty to intervene, but since his resignation in May 2017, no action has been taken

Petrides said that he will request financial help for those who have been forced to abandon their homes when the cabinet reconvenes in September, she said.

“He stressed that this is not compensation and no amount was mentioned, but it would be towards rent,” she said.

Evlavis said that the government has done nothing to help homeowners who are both Cypriots and non-Cypriots in the last seven years since the problems were first encountered.

In addition, Evlavis said that the minister was angry that the situation has had media coverage both in Cyprus and the UK.

“He blamed British residents who are complaining to the press here in Cyprus and in the UK, this is a kind of racism. What they have done is normal and I don’t think that this was the right reaction, it shouldn’t have been mentioned,” he said.

Zoi added that a few people argued that the situation is damaging for Pissouri which angered the minister who said that the government doesn’t accept blackmail (going to the press).

The minister didn’t greet waiting residents with the exception of one of the affected homeowners, Peter Field, when Zoi introduced him.

“The minister didn’t greet any of us and he could have, as some are Cypriot; he said hello to me when I was introduced, before moving on. I had opened the gate of our house in the hope that he would take a look, but he didn’t. As far as I know, he didn’t go to any of the homes,” Field told the Cyprus Mail.

In April, the auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides announced that the government should not essentially assume responsibly and compensate as it would set a precedent.

Readers' comments

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  • Antony Walker says:

    MartynG. No responsible expert has identified negligent construction as a cause of damage to homes in southeast Pissouri. All experts (including the GSD) agree that homes are being destroyed by uncontrolled groundwater ownership of which is reserved under the Constitution to the State.

    The Cypriot Government could request help from the EU but for some inexplicable reason chooses not to.

    Ed: Just to add to your comment Antony, the European Commission has taken Cyprus to the European Court of Justice for its failure to properly treat urban waste water. And there are funds available from the EU for floods, landslides and other disasters. (I think it was Spain who got EU assistance for a landslide a few years ago.)

  • Richard says:

    After years of stalling and inaction – those affected had every right to go to the media. I’m not at all surprised though that they have reached the decision they have. The ‘denial mindset’ runs so strongly through many on the island – which is why there are so very many problems.

    It’s a terrible situation for those involved and will only serve to make many considering purchasing property on the island hold off from doing so (as people have pointed out).

    Soon however – with more pressure being placed on the Cypriot government by the E.U to stop taking ‘low hanging fruit’ by selling houses to non-E.U citizens in exchange for E.U passports – they may be forced to think differently.

  • Christos says:

    What do you expect from a corrupt country

  • Alan Burke says:

    Where the houses were destroyed by natural geological movements the Minister is probably, legally in the right not to compensate. But what short sighted thinking on his part.

    By fully compensating these unfortunate owners and making sure it got full media coverage, he could have achieved a magnificent P.R. success in the house buying market.

    This goodwill gesture would go a long way towards restoring our tarnished image, restore confidence in potential foreign property buyers and bring hard currency to our dodgy economy. If government figures are to be believed it would take only a tiny part of our GDP to put matters right and bring this tragic situation to a happy ending.

    Ed: Funds to assist are available from the EU. “The European Union faces multiple risks, including floods and extreme weather events (aggravated by climate change), pandemics and man-made disaster risks. The result is injury and loss of life. There is also the significant cost of damage, affecting stability and growth. Since 2005, natural disasters have cost the EU close to €100 billion.

    “Investing in risk prevention is vital to preserve the capacity for further socio-economic development. It is also more effective than bearing the cost of inaction: for every €1 spent on prevention, €4 or more will be saved on response. In this respect, EU cohesion policy is key to disaster prevention and management.”

  • MartynG says:

    ‘Interior Minister reported to be angry with British victims of Pissouri landslide for complaining to the Cypriot and British media and offers no compensation to those affected; many homes now unfit for habitation.”

    How Outrageous – The Interior Minister blames these long-suffering property owners for complaining to the Cypriot and British media, he rejects an offer to inspect just one of many homes/properties that have been badly built, badly located and many of which are neither habitable – nor safe to live in!!!

    As I recall, all this was brought out in the Cyprus press many years ago, when there might have been some effort by the Pissouri Council and the Cyprus Government to consider with the unfortunate owners, some effective remedial action …but NO real efforts seem to have been made, such that this development has now become, it seems a virtually uninhabitable zone.

    If the Cyprus Government who encourage, mostly Welcome, British and people from other nations to acquire property, live in Cyprus, then surely at Government Level they, HE, should be protecting their Reputation, controlling the builders/developers, imposing and regularly checking Building Standards, they allow to apply, ‘build’ in their country – NOT bleating as the Interior Minister has been doing about the fact that in over 5 or more years these severe problems have been ‘known’ but almost totally ignored. He now complains that these matters, long overdue in my opinion, are being broadcast not only in Cyprus, but in The U.K. and, probably further afield……

    SO: Instead of ‘ducking and diving’ on these important matters, this Minister ought, surely, to be arranging and taking Action about these horrendous cases, not criticising others and quite clearly taking no Action himself whatsoever – not only on this particular development, but broadcasting the appalling cases such as the Pissouri nightmare which can happen elsewhere it seems in this country.

    Ed: I understand that the Pissouri Council offered help, but TPTB prevented them from doing so.

  • Dunn good says:

    “He blamed British residents who are complaining to the press here in Cyprus and in the UK, this is a kind of racism. What they have done is normal and I don’t think that this was the right reaction, it shouldn’t have been mentioned,” he said.

    I wonder what the Minister would have done if it was his home involved, take it ‘laying down’ I don’t think so. Typical of Cypriot mentality of those with authority.

    Ed: He apparently doesn’t read the Greek language press or watch the Greek language TV where the landslide has been reported.

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