By Bejay Browne
PAPHOS beaches head is pressing for permanent measures to be undertaken at a deadly stretch of coastline which claimed its 15th victim on Sunday.
A 60 year old Russian tourist drowned at around 6.30pm in the deadly seas off the Chlorakas coastline, in front of his wife and ten-year-old son. Attempts were made to resuscitate the man but police said he was pronounced dead at Paphos general hospital.
He was the 15th victim to lose his life in the deadly waters in the last ten years. There have also been hundreds of reported near-drownings, most of these victims were guests staying at hotels and tourist apartments in the area.
Head of the Paphos municipality beaches committee Andreas Chrysanthou told the Cyprus Mail: “This is a tragic loss of life but sadly this is human behaviour. People often don’t consider the risk and are confident that they are good swimmers and can handle any situation. But this isn’t the case.”
Chrysanthou added that Paphos municipality had taken every possible measure to warn the public of the dangers of swimming in the area and to ensure their safety.
“There are huge signs in place all along the shoreline in Greek, English, Russian, French and German informing people of the dangerous rip currents, as well as red flags.”
There is no designated lifeguard on duty because the area has been officially declared as unsuitable for swimming and extremely dangerous. However, Chrysanthou noted that a nearby hotel had employed a member of staff to warn people not to swim at this beach.
The deadly stretch of coast – with its rip currents and high waves – runs for about five kilometres from Chlorokas to Kissonerga in a popular tourist area.
The beaches head said the council were presented with a detailed study of that area last Thursday, which they are now pressing to implement by the end of the year.
“We are determined to find a solution to the problems in the area once and for all.”
The study found that it will cost around €1 million to complete all of the necessary structural work at the beach, which will include wave breakers. The councilor said that the public works department has assured the municipality that although the state is broke, they would endeavour to obtain the money for the structural fund from the EU- hopefully by the end of the year.
“We are pressurising the government to implement this study quickly. The local hotel owners were also present at the meeting and agreed with the study.”
According to Chrysanthou, the structural drawings are ready, and in early September the technical school of Athens will make a 3D model to predict how the rip current will behave after the study has been implemented, with 90 per cent accuracy. “We will then proceed with the tender process and seek the necessary funding,” he said.
The mayor of Paphos Savvas Vergas is meeting with the minister of communications and works to try and speed up the process, which has the backing of the beaches committee, the municipality and local businesses, he noted.
“I believe the only solution for this area is create these wave breakers. And €1 million is nothing compared with a human life and the negative impact for tourism in Paphos,” said Chrystanthou.