The people of Anargyroi, Greece have voted to abandon their homes after a landslide left their village teetering on the brink of a giant open-cast coal mine.
Campaigners from across Europe visited the village last week to see first-hand the impact that lignite mining has had on the local people and landscape in Western Macedonia.
Also known as ‘brown coal’, lignite is the most polluting major fossil fuel still burnt in Europe.
Yesterday we visited #Anargyroi village in Western Macedonia in 🇬🇷 to witness the catastrophe caused by #coal mining.
Local community was forced to relocate violently and loose their livelihoods. Time to move #BeyondCoal with #JustTransition for all pic.twitter.com/B2k81TzbKT
— Stavros Mavrogenis (@Mavrogenis_S) 21 maart 2019
Anargyroi sits on the edge of the Amyntaio coal mine. The mining company carved a 5km-long canyon out of the landscape to the east of the village to feed a string of power plants in area.
Anargyroi village in #WesternMacedonia Greece. Many people here lost their homes because of disastrous impacts of #coal lignite mining. Those that stayed are afraid to look at future. We need a #JustTransition that will move Europe #BeyondCoal.#CoalRegions #CleanEnergyEU #EndCoal pic.twitter.com/bRZoN6cjYs
— Joanna Flisowska (@j_flisowska) 20 maart 2019
The village’s population has plummeted since a landslide left streets damaged and homes no longer safe to live in.
Many residents had lived in fear for years and complained to authorities of hearing noises under their homes as the earth shifted.
In summer 2017, 182 people had to be evacuated after an enormous landslide cut off a road to the village and left streets and homes ‘split in two’.
— Katie_for_clean (@Katieforclean1) 20 maart 2019
Villagers have since been offered alternative accommodation in a nearby city, but those that have already moved have been forced to leave their rural lives behind and abandon homes the homes they grew up in.
— Ilona Jędrasik (@IlonaJedrasik) 20 maart 2019
Some residents are angry that their concerns were ignored – many had reported hearing the tremors below their homes in the years before the landslide.
The village of #Anargyroi in Greece is one of many being sacrificed for #coal. It’s literally being eaten away by coal mine expansion, forcing the local people out. The industry has no future, & it has stolen theirs.#BeyondCoal #justtransition #djispark #aerialphotography pic.twitter.com/ewnWMdxJjT
— Greg McNevin (@gregmcnevin) 22 maart 2019
The future for the people of Anargyroi is still unclear, but there is hope that support from local government and the European Union could help ensure a “just transition” for local people.
Visitors to the area described the mine as “like looking into hell”. Photographer Greg McNevin captured some images for Europe Beyond Coal.