A YEAR since the Mari explosion, the small community of mainly elderly refugees are still living with the effects of that fateful day, but they remain eternally grateful that no one from the village lost their lives.
One elderly lady was hit on the face by a door, others suffered serious damage to their farms, while others saw doors and windows fly off shattering glass everywhere. But they are all fully aware that the damage was miniscule compared to the deaths and pain suffered by the families of those that died in the blast.
“I was hit and I went to hospital for two weeks,” said Maria Prokopi, an elderly resident of the village who explained that she managed to break her left cheek but does not remember anything else. “No one has come here to see me, no one was interested,” she added. Prokopi also said that to this day she still gets dizzy spells because of the hit she took.
“I fixed two doors as I had the money,” said Georgios Hadjikakkou, a grocer, referring to the doors at the store, which he said cost €1,900 to fix. “The door at home hasn’t been fixed……those who had connections managed to get them fixed,” he added. Hadjikakkou said that he had got no compensation for any of the work he did nor did anyone come to fix anything. “The minister said fix them and we’ll give you the money so I fixed them with the intention that I would get the money,” he said.
According to many of the residents officials came round very soon after the blast to calculate the damages and get all the paperwork in order. However since then they have barely made an appearance.
Georgos Petrakis, a farmer, said that parts of their kitchen and roof fell. He also said that under the pressure of the blast, the glass covering the entire front door shattered and the door caved in, buckling under the pressure. Again like most people he says he was only compensated for some of it. He explained how his son got tossed upwards from his bed in nearby Zygi. “He got thrown upwards in his bed and he’s a big, broad man, these are workers that we’re talking about, not small men,” said Petrakis.
His seven-year-old granddaughter Angeliki walked me through the house explaining how the drinks stand behind the front door fell, breaking all the bottles and tossing shards of glass all over the floor. She said that her young aunt, who still lives at the family home and works as a hairdresser, jumped up from her bed when she heard the noise and as she went to leave the room got bashed in the shoulder by her bedroom door. Despite the damage Petrakis is sanguine. “The damage is those who died, all of this can be fixed.”
Dina Hadjoula was one of the lucky ones who happened to be up early and had most of her windows and doors open: “Thank God I didn’t have much (damage)……I got up early and opened the windows and doors so the wave came in one door and went out through the other.” She added that there was some damage to a few things but she had been compensated.
Others felt that where labour was offered by the state, the workmanship was shoddy and simply had a patched-up feel about it: “The work that they did was patchy, that’s what you would call it,” said Liana Hadjikakkou, Georgios’ wife.
Another resident, Socrates Ignatiou, showed me the repair work done on his property.
“They replaced two of my doors but look they don’t open properly,” he said demonstrating how the newly fitted aluminium doors drag along the floor when they are opened.
Christodoulos Kneknas, a cattle farmer, tells a different story saying the state was by their side as soon as the blast happened. “The state came and dealt with it…from the first moment they were with us,” he said, adding that he had to replace a few doors but he was compensated.