War of words over collapsing balconies

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Officials are passing the buck over two incidents of collapsing balconies in Paphos in which seven people were injured, four of them seriously.

The incidents occurred 24 hours apart last week, triggering a showdown between Paphos Mayor Phedon Phedonos and Interior Minister Nicos Nouris, who claim the other is responsible.

On Friday, three young Nepalese workers were in critical condition after being seriously injured when the balcony of their crowded apartment in Paphos collapsed.

The three men were sleeping on the balcony of an old apartment building, with the balcony collapse attributed to a structural failure.

On Saturday, another balcony collapsed onto the outdoor area of a diner, with four people injured.

A man and a woman, both 29, were slightly injured, while a 23-year-old woman was kept for further treatment, and a 24-year-old woman was sent for emergency surgery at Nicosia General’s Neurosurgical Department.

Paphos Mayor accuses the Interior Minister of not doing enough to alleviate the pressure of migration on the town, allowing property owners to cram migrants in dodgy apartments.

In statements to CyBC, Phedonos said it is a common practice of property owners to cram people into tiny apartments, “charging €100 per head, with some having as many as 14 tenants in a two-bedroom apartment”.

He argues the Interior Ministry has failed in managing the migrant issue, with Paphos feeling the sharp end.

Nouris, on the other hand, said that Paphos Municipal authorities are responsible “to identify, check and take measures in cases of dangerous buildings, based on the Regulation of Roads and Buildings’ Law”.

He sent a letter to Phedonos requesting information on any actions taken on the matter, calling the municipality to do so.

Phedonos said that should local authorities start evicting tenants from uninhabitable buildings, the state would suffer, as it cannot house people who will be left homeless.

The Paphos mayor revealed the authority to issue 300 eviction notices on Monday alone.

Warning letters have been given to apartment owners to appoint an engineer to conduct a repair study to make their buildings safe to live in.