In Greece, firefighters, supported by the army, continued the operation on Friday to evacuate hundreds of residents from several villages blocked by floods in Thessaly, having left seven dead so far, according to a new report from the authorities.
Three people, two women in their 80s and a 69-year-old man, were found dead in the last 24 hours, bringing to seven the number of people killed in the torrential rains that fell from Tuesday to Thursday in Thessaly, the main plain in the center of the country, 330 km north of Athens.
Helicopters and lifeboats are being used as part of a “huge operation”, firefighters said, to gain access to villages in the region, blocked by flooding rivers.
The streets have transformed into real torrents, with houses being underwater in places like in the village of Palamas, noted an AFP journalist.
According to firefighters, at least six people are missing, especially in the departments of Magnesia and near the town of Karditsa.
The inhabitants now fear that the number of victims will increase.
"It is almost certain that other people will be found dead," laments Christodoulos Makris, 53, a farmer who managed to leave Palamas, his village, on Thursday in his tractor, before finding refuge in a municipal building. from Itea, a neighboring village.
Qualified as an "extreme phenomenon in terms of the amount of water that fell in the space of 24 hours" by experts, the storm called "Daniel" hit Magnesia on Monday and Tuesday, in particular its capital, the port city of Volos and the villages of Mount Pelion, before reaching localities around Karditsa and Trikala on Wednesday.
Nearly 200 tourists stranded on Mount Pelion have been evacuated aboard boats in recent days, firefighters announced Thursday.
In Farkadona, 330 km northwest of the Greek capital, the water level exceeded one meter and many homes were flooded. Evacuations are underway on board boats, noted an AFP journalist.
“People should have left the village earlier but they didn't, they didn't expect so much water and they were trapped,” said Grigoris Mitrakos, head of the local fire brigade. .
The plain of Thessaly, the largest in Greece, crossed by long rivers, has turned into "an immense lake", according to firefighters who are worried about the rise in the level of the Pinios river, the largest in the region.
A coordination cell has been set up by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who visited Karditsa on Friday. In the stadium of this city, helicopters landed with people, especially old people, evacuated from nearby villages.
“Our priority is saving people” and “restoring the damage,” said Kyriakos Mitsotakis, reiterating that it is “an unprecedented natural disaster.”
The main left-wing opposition party Syriza deplored a “huge catastrophe” with “tragic consequences for the local economy, businesses and agricultural production”.
He accused the government of not having carried out "work to deal with the floods" despite "the European funds available".
The election scheduled for Sunday for the new head of Syriza, after the resignation of Alexis Tsipras in June, has been postponed until September 17.
This bad weather follows devastating forest fires this summer in Greece, which killed at least 26 people.
The European Commission, which activated the EU civil protection mechanism to help Greece in July and August, indicated it would assist the country again, if necessary.
According to the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the three helicopters sent to fight the fires will remain in Greece to help with relief efforts in flooded areas.
As the planet warms, the atmosphere contains more water vapor (about 7% for each additional degree), increasing the risks of heavy precipitation events which, combined with other factors such as urbanization, lead to floods.
In Turkey and Bulgaria, two countries bordering Greece, the torrential rains of recent days have caused a total of 12 deaths.
09/08/2023 16:43:05 - Farkadóna (Greece) (AFP) - © 2023 AFP