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Friday, 30 July 2021

Five dead, one missing as floods hit Greek island

AFP , Sunday 9 Aug 2020
Abandoned sunken vehicles following a storm at the village of Bourtzi, on Evia island, northeast of Athens, on Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020. Five people, including en elderly couple and an 8-month-old baby have been found dead, two more are missing and dozens have been trapped in their homes and cars as a storm hits the island of Evia in central Greece, authorities said Sunday. (Photo: AP)

Five people including a baby died and another person was missing on Sunday as torrential rains and floods swept the Greek island of Evia, damaging dozens of houses and blocking roads.

The eight-month-old baby was found dead in a house in the village of Politika on Sunday, a fire service spokesman said. The baby's parents were unharmed.

Hours earlier, a man and woman, both in their 80s, were found unconscious by firefighters in two houses in the same village, the spokesman said. They were confirmed as dead at the hospital.

Deputy minister for civil protection Nikos Hardalias had earlier said five people had died and two were missing.

But a spokesman for the local emergency services told AFP later in the day that "a woman has been found alive, the rescue workers are looking for the second missing person, a man."

The ANA news agency said a helicopter had spotted the missing woman, who had been swept away by the floodwaters from her home in the village of Bourtsi.

The two other people who died, a 74-year-old man and a 73-year-old woman, were also from Bourtsi, the agency reported.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis voiced his "profound pain for the loss of lives" and said he would visit Evia, Greece's second largest island after Crete, on Monday.

- 'A nightmare' -

Torrents of water blocked roads in the west of Evia, which lies about 100 kilometres (60 miles) northeast of Athens. Some tourists were unable to leave one campsite on the island, ANA reported.

"We are experiencing a nightmare, we are using every possible means" to combat the floods, said Ana Fanis Spanos, a lawmaker from the central Greece region.

Storm Thalia battered several regions of mainland Greece Saturday, though the weather was improving on Sunday.

Hundreds of homes were flooded in Politika and several surrounding villages. Blocked roads prevented fire trucks from reaching the affected sites.

Two rivers burst their banks and filled roads with mud, local authorities said. The ground floors of many houses were flooded.

About 100 firefighters and two helicopters as well as the coastguard were deployed to rescue those trapped.

"Last year we had fires, this year it's floods," one resident of the village of Psachna told ERT television.

Flooded homes are a frequent occurrence in Greece due to a lack of adequate controls over construction and planning.

In November 2017, floods killed 24 people in Mandra, a village in an industrial region 30 kilometres west of Athens. Torrents of mud poured down over thousands of buildings, homes, shops and factories.

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