Disasters

published : 2023-09-08

Deadly Floods Devastate Central Greece and Neighboring Countries

At least 6 dead, 6 missing as floods overtake central Greece, floods also ravaged neighboring Bulgaria, Turkey

Widespread flooding in central Greece, taken with Nikon D850

Widespread flooding in central Greece has caused utter devastation, leaving at least six people dead, six missing, and dozens trapped.

Severe rainstorms have unleashed torrents of water, breaching dams, washing away roads and bridges, and even hurling cars into the sea.

Large areas are now without power and drinking water.

But Greece is not the only country affected by this catastrophic event; floods have also ravaged neighboring Bulgaria and Turkey.

In Turkey, a 53-year-old man who had been missing since the floods hit a campsite near the border with Bulgaria has been found dead, bringing the death toll in Turkey to eight.

In total, the floods have claimed the lives of 18 people across all three countries since the rains began on Tuesday.

Rescue teams in Greece are working tirelessly to save residents, with some villagers taking refuge on their rooftops to escape the rising floodwaters, which have reached over 6 feet in some areas.

The Greece Fire Service has deployed divers and swift water rescue specialists to assist in the operation.

A total of 110 people, including a baby, and one dog have been airlifted to safety so far, thanks to the efforts of ten helicopters.

Miraculously, some of those rescued had spent the night and most of Thursday stranded on their roofs without any food or water.

But the rescue efforts have faced challenges, as the helicopters were grounded earlier due to frequent lightning.

In Karditsa and Trikala, three villages have been completely cut off by floodwaters, with residents making desperate calls to radio stations to report collapsing homes and beg for rescue.

Rescue team airlifting stranded residents from rooftops, taken with Canon EOS R5

Meanwhile, in the area under Mount Pilion, around 200 people, including foreign tourists, had to be evacuated by sea after roads were washed away or blocked by rockfalls.

Tragically, the body of a man who had been missing for a day was found in a stream, while the bodies of two women were discovered in a village in the Karditsa area, bringing the death toll in Greece to six since Tuesday.

Greece's Minister for Climate Crisis and Civil Protection, Vassilis Kikilias, has vowed that the rescue effort will continue throughout the night.

Rescuers, armed with boats and other resources, are determined to reach every house and evacuate trapped individuals in the cut-off villages.

In addition to the rescue efforts, the army and civil protection personnel will distribute over 3,000 meals and bottled water to 24 villages in the Karditsa and Trikala regions.

The situation remains dire, with six people still reported missing and the flooding showing no signs of abating.

The Greek military has deployed over 25 boats to assist in rescuing those trapped by floodwaters.

Greek government spokesman, Pavlos Marinakis, has called this unprecedented event a national crisis.

Some areas have received more than double the average annual rainfall of Athens in just 12 hours.

Rescue operations are of the utmost importance to protect the lives of those affected and safeguard critical infrastructure.

To tackle this monumental task, swift water rescue specialists, divers, and the army have all joined forces to reach even the most remote areas.

This devastating flooding follows the recent wildfires that have decimated vast tracts of land, claiming over 20 lives and leaving behind a path of destruction.

Damaged roads and bridges due to the severe rainstorms, taken with Sony Alpha a7 III

Despite the immense challenges faced by Greece, another forest fire has broken out in the northeastern region of Evros.

Just last week, the same area experienced the largest wildfire ever recorded in the European Union.

Efforts are underway to combat the blaze, with firefighters, helicopters, and planes battling the flames.

Greek Defense Minister, Nikos Dendias, has cut short his trip to Dubai to return to Greece and oversee the Armed Forces' critical role in dealing with the aftermath of the severe weather.

In light of these unprecedented events, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has postponed his upcoming speeches and visits to focus on visiting the affected areas.

To ensure public safety, authorities have imposed traffic bans in certain regions and issued emergency alerts advising people to stay indoors and avoid basement and ground floor areas.

The storm, named Daniel, is expected to gradually ease later today.

Despite the challenges faced, Greece's National Art Gallery, although flooded, has confirmed that none of the displayed paintings were damaged.

These catastrophic floods serve as a stark reminder of the unpredictability of nature's fury and the need for swift and effective responses to protect lives and infrastructure.

As Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey grapple with the aftermath of this disaster, the resilience, bravery, and solidarity of communities and emergency responders shine through.

Let us hope that the floodwaters recede soon and that those who remain missing are found safe and sound.