Europe

Landslide in Western Greece Sweeps Olive Trees Away

About 2,500 centenarian olive trees were swallowed by the tumbling soil.

Apr. 19, 2018
By Costas Vasilopoulos

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Αn unex­pected enemy destroyed many olive trees in Greece a few days ago, when a big land­slide elim­i­nated an area of more than 200 acres in the west­ern part of the main­land.

I lost 4 acres of land with 120 olive trees, the water tank I was using to water my trees and other equip­ment.- Kry­opigi Farmer via ERT3 News

The rare phe­nom­e­non, which occurred in the sur­round­ings of Kry­opigi vil­lage near the city of Pre­veza, cre­ated a crack in the ground mea­sur­ing 500 meters long and 200 meters wide and totally changed the mor­phol­ogy of the land­scape.

For more than two weeks, the locals have been wit­ness­ing the cen­tral road sur­face sub­sid­ing in cer­tain spots and their olive groves shift­ing. Then, the main slide began and tons of soil wiped out roads, bridges, var­i­ous cul­ti­va­tions, and about 2,500 cen­te­nar­ian olive trees from the sur­round­ing groves.

Luck­ily, no vil­lagers were vic­tims of the slide, but there are con­cerns that a toll on human lives will be taken if the geo­log­i­cal phe­nom­e­non con­tin­ues to develop. The res­i­dents of Kry­opigi said that rum­bles from below are con­stantly heard dur­ing the night.


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The head of the local branch of the Insti­tute for Geo­log­i­cal Research char­ac­ter­ized it an unprece­dented geo­log­i­cal event” and explained that the ground in the area is not cohe­sive; the recent strong down­pours made things worse and caused the slide. Sim­i­lar events had hap­pened again in the past in the spe­cific area, but they were of a much lower mag­ni­tude.

I lost 4 acres of land with 120 olive trees,” a local farmer said to the national tele­vi­sion ERT3 chan­nel. And I also lost the water tank I was using to water my trees and other equip­ment,” he added.

The num­ber of trees affected may seem petty, but in Greece, most of the olive grove own­ers pos­sess a small prop­erty that pro­vides the year’s olive oil for the fam­ily. The sur­plus of oil (if any) is sold to bring in some income, ever­more valu­able now that the coun­try has not fully recov­ered from the 2008 finan­cial cri­sis.

The dis­trict of Pre­veza is not among the top olive oil pro­duc­ing ter­ri­to­ries of Greece, and this season’s har­vest is cal­cu­lated at approx­i­mately 5,000 tons. It is still unclear what the impact of the land­slide will be on the pro­duc­tion of the affected area for next sea­son, but it is cer­tain that many local olive oil pro­duc­ers will suf­fer sig­nif­i­cant losses. This means less stock of olive oil for per­sonal use and a lower poten­tial rev­enue from sell­ing the rest of it.

Res­i­dents are call­ing for the area to be declared a state of emer­gency as they seek some com­pen­sa­tion for those hit by the rav­age.





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