The death toll from severe flooding in central Greece has risen to 10 people, with four individuals still missing, according to the country’s civil protection minister. Efforts to rescue affected individuals from inundated villages have been underway, with rescue crews utilizing helicopters and boats.
Flooding has also impacted neighboring Bulgaria and Turkey, resulting in a total death toll of 22 across the three countries. In Greece, the rainstorms caused streams to transform into powerful currents that breached dams, washed away roads and bridges, and even swept cars into the sea. Many affected areas are now grappling with power outages and a lack of drinking water. The amount of rainfall in certain regions exceeded twice the average annual rainfall for Athens in just a 12-hour period.
Although the rain has ceased, the floodwaters continue to rise due to the Pineios River overflowing near the city of Larissa. Evacuation orders have been issued for several areas in Larissa, which is one of Greece’s largest cities with a population of approximately 150,000. Local residents are experiencing a dire situation as water levels in flooded neighborhoods increase rapidly.
Vassilis Kikilias, the Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Minister, emphasized the need for constant vigilance due to the unpredictable intensification of the flooding. He warned that the situation could worsen at any moment.
Rescue operations have saved more than 2,500 individuals, including 420 people airlifted by helicopters from 14 villages. Over 1,000 rescuers and 20 helicopters, including three Swiss helicopters specially brought in to help combat recent wildfires, are involved in the ongoing operation. The affected region is predominantly fertile farmland, raising concerns that the economic impact of the flooding could exceed 1 billion euros ($1.06 billion).
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who suspended his annual state of the economy speech to visit the flooded areas, has requested financial assistance from the European Union for reconstruction efforts. Evacuating citizens from dangerous areas remains the top priority. Villages that are unreachable by land due to destroyed or flooded roads have left hundreds of people stranded. Distressed individuals have resorted to calling Greek media outlets, seeking help and reporting the dire conditions they are facing without access to food or clean water.
In the Pilion area, residents and tourists were evacuated by sea as access roads to certain villages were completely severed. Among the missing individuals are a young Austrian couple who were in Greece for their wedding and honeymoon. It is feared that they were swept away along with the bungalow they were staying in when the floodwaters surged on Tuesday.
Rescue teams have deployed swift water rescue specialists and divers to aid in the rescue efforts, as floodwaters have risen to heights surpassing two meters (six feet) in some areas, leading to extensive property damage and building collapses.
This catastrophe follows closely on the heels of devastating wildfires in Greece that claimed many lives, destroyed forests and farmland, and caused significant property damage.
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