Extreme-weather floods sweep away lives in Greece and Turkey

At least 22 people have died in flash floods that scoured Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria after record-breaking rain.

The body of a 77-year-old man was recovered in central Greece, where 11 deaths are confirmed, late on Saturday with those listed as missing also rising to six.

Officials have issued a grim warning that the death toll is likely to rise.

The man was living in the seaside village of Paltsi, in the mountainous Pelion peninsula situated between the Aegean Sea to the east and Pagasitikos gulf to the west.

He had refused to leave his home, despite the entreaties of his wife, who evacuated. “I have been through storms,” he had told her.

The man’s body drifted in the Aegean, past the island of Skiathos, to another island, Evia, where it was found, authorities said.

Pelion was hit by torrential rains first on Tuesday, with some locations reporting close to 76 centimetres of rain in less than a day. The rest of the region of Thessaly, to the west, was struck later Tuesday and on Wednesday and Thursday.

Evacuation ordered

Another village near a major Greek city was ordered evacuated on Saturday afternoon as authorities frantically shored up flood defences against a rising river.

Rescue crews were evacuating stranded residents from areas already flooded elsewhere in Thessaly.

The village of Omorfochori, about eight kilometres by road from the city of Larissa, Thessaly’s capital and largest city, was ordered evacuated by SMS alert due to the rising waters of the Pineios river. Residents were directed to a town to the southeast.

But the main concern remains that the already overflowing river could inundate Larissa itself, a city of around 150,000. Authorities placed tens of thousands of bags full of sand and pebbles along the river’s banks, while opening up diversion channels west of the city.

There has been much criticism about state and local authorities’ response to the latest disaster to hit Greece, hard on the heels of devastating wildfires.

The rescue response to the floods that resulted from torrential rains that hit the area from Tuesday to Thursday was negligible until early Thursday, while people were clinging to the roofs of their stricken homes, according to a report in Greek daily newspaper Kathimerini.

The paper reported that, of the Air Force’s 12 search-and-rescue Puma helicopters, only four are operational, with the rest either cannibalised for spare parts or grounded for so long that they can no longer fly.


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