April 14, 2024
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BY ELENA BECATOROS

ATHENS, Greece, (AP). — Flooding in central Greece has left at least six dead, six still missing and dozens stuck. Heavy rainstorms fueled torrents of water that washed roads, bridges away, threw cars into the sea, and left many areas without electricity or water.

The flooding was also triggered by storms in neighboring Bulgaria. On Thursday, rescuers found the body of an unidentified 53-year-old Turkish man, who went missing after torrential rains destroyed bungalows on a camping site near Bulgaria. This recovery brings the total death toll to 18 for all three nations since Tuesday’s rains.

Authorities in Greece deployed swift-water rescue experts and divers to help residents of certain villages who took shelter on tops of homes as floodwaters rose above 2 meters (6 foot).

In an airlift operation, ten helicopters were used to transport 110 people – including a child – and one dog. Some people who were evacuated in the air said that they spent most of their time on Thursday and all of last night without any food or drink. According to authorities, the helicopters that were carrying out rescue missions in Karditsa had not been able to fly due to lightning.

Floodwaters completely cut off at least three villages, including Trikala. Residents called in radio stations reporting their homes collapsing to ask for rescue.

About 200 people including some foreign tourists were evacuated via sea to areas beneath Mount Pilion that were rendered inaccessible on land by the rockfalls or washed-away roads.

A man’s body, which had been lost for more than a day, was discovered in a stream in Karditsa on Thursday. The fire service then reported finding the remains of two women. With the three new deaths, the number of people killed in floods across the country has now reached six.

Vassilis Kikilias said, Greece’s Minister for Climate Crisis and Civil Protection, that the rescue operation would continue through out the night.

The official said, “Rescuers will use boats and any other available means to continue house-to-house going through the village and rescuing trapped residents.”

The minister added that the army and civil defense personnel were distributing more than 3,000 bottles of water and meals in 24 villages within Karditsa, Trikala and surrounding regions.

The fire department reported that nearly 1,800 people were rescued to date and six others are missing. According to the military, it deployed 25 boats for rescue of people trapped in flood waters.

Pavlos Marinakis, the Greek government’s spokesman, noted that in just 12 hours, some parts of the country received rainfall more than double the annual average for Athens.

Marinakis explained that the state’s top priority was to save people in the affected areas and safeguard critical infrastructure.

Vasilis Vathrakogiannis is the spokesperson of the fire department. He said the swift-water rescue specialists, divers and disaster response teams from their department, along with the army are participating in rescue operations and trying reach remote areas.

The floods followed devastating wildfires, which had destroyed huge tracts farmland and forests. They also burned houses and killed more than 20. While central Greece has been flooded, fire officials said that on Thursday afternoon a fire started in Evros in northeastern Greece. Last week, the European Union’s largest fire burned across a natural reserve in this area. According to the report, 36 firefighters were fighting the fire in Evros’ Soufli district with the help of two helicopters.

Nikos Dendias – the Greek Defense Minister – announced he had cut short his trip to Dubai in order to be able to oversee the Armed Forces’ greatest contributions to the response to the extreme weather.

Thessaloniki’s northern city, Kyriakos Mistitakis, postponed a scheduled news conference and his annual State of the Economy speech to be held at the weekend. This was done in order to inspect the flood-affected areas.

In several areas, the police has issued emergency alerts, warning people not to go outside and away from ground-floor and basement levels of buildings.

Daniel was expected to start fading gradually by Thursday night.

In Athens, rains continued to fall on Wednesday. Part of an important avenue was turned into a mud river, which swept away people.

Culture Ministry says Thursday that although the National Art Gallery located in the heart of the city was also affected by flooding, none of its paintings have been damaged.

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