Greece: fines for sea rescues if bad weather warning ignored

ATHENS, Greece (AP)—Greek authorities are putting into effect a law, where people using recreational watercraft at sea who disregard severe weather warnings and then trigger search and rescue operations will be liable for incurred costs and a fine.

Greece’s coast guard made the announcement after a spate of incidents in which coast guard and navy helicopters and vessels were scrambled to rescue people who had headed out to sea for fun despite very strong winds and rough seas, and after days of public severe weather warnings.

In January, a rescue operation was launched for a 52-year-old windsurfer that had been swept out to sea in a gale, where winds were blowing at around 40-46 miles per hour. In another January incident, a navy helicopter was scrambled in a severe gale, with winds at 47-63 miles per hour to search for a 35-year-old on a stand-up paddle board off the eastern coast of Athens. Both men were successfully rescued.

Other similar incidents have occurred with people in sea kayaks and sailboats, among others. The coast guard noted the search and rescue operations put rescuers’ lives at risk. Costs and fines are to be determined on a case-by-case basis depending on the resources used.

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