Greek authorities are trying to identify the saboteurs who damaged an underwater pipeline that left the residents of the island of Aegina with no running drinking water in their homes.
Officials said an explosive charge likely cut off the supply of fresh water carried along the 12-kilometer-long (7.5-mile-long) pipeline and that repairs were likely to take several weeks.
Greater Athens regional governor Nikos Hardalias said Tuesday that Coast Guard divers had located the damaged section. He also said that 13.5 tons of drinking water have been delivered for the immediate needs of the most vulnerable residents of the island.
Some officials have suggested that the alleged sabotage might be connected to competition among private interests to supply Athens’ nearby islands with water. Hardalias, who traveled by boat on Monday to an area above the damage site, said he had requested a judicial investigation into the alleged attack.
“Our priority is to upgrade and update our security measures so that this critical infrastructure is not subject to another act of sabotage,” he said.
Water pipeline to Aegina damaged in the past
The latest incident is the fourth recorded in recent years in the underwater pipeline of Aegina.
In similar incidents in the past, the Coast Guard that undertook the investigations also found traces of saboteurs, but there was no significant development in the investigations.
In 2020, culprits drilled holes in the pipeline with a household drill, while in 2022, two other acts of sabotage were carried out. The first was in May with explosives, creating a one-meter crater next to the pipeline.
Two months later, explosives were again placed on the pipeline at a depth of 14 meters and at a distance of 300 meters from the coast, which, according to authorities, means that the perpetrators were experienced divers.
Traces of the fuse of the explosives used by the perpetrators were found as well as some stickers on the pipeline, evidence that proved beyond any doubt that this was a malicious act and not an accident, the Coast Guard said at the time.
Residents testified that various interests are “disturbed” by the operation of the vital pipeline for the island, requesting the assistance of the state mechanism to protect these infrastructures.
Aegina is a popular weekend destination for residents of Athens. The island lies 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) southwest of Piraeus, home to the Greek capital’s main port, and has a year-round population of about 13,000 residents.