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At least four people die after severe floods hit Greece

Floodwaters cover houses and farms after the country's record rainstorm in the village of Kastro, near Larissa, Thessaly region, central Greece, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023
Floodwaters cover houses and farms after the country's record rainstorm in the village of Kastro, near Larissa, Thessaly region, central Greece, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023 Copyright Vaggelis Kousioras/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Vaggelis Kousioras/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AP
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“Our country finds itself, for the third day, dealing with a phenomenon the likes of which we have not seen in the past," a government spokesman said.

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Widespread flooding in central Greece has left at least four people dead and six missing after severe rainstorms turned streams into raging torrents, burst dams, washed away roads and bridges and took cars into the sea.

Authorities deployed divers and swift water rescue specialists as residents in some villages took refuge on the roofs of their homes on Thursday to escape floodwaters that rose to more than two metres.

Flooding triggered by severe rainstorms also hit neighbouring Bulgaria and Turkey, leaving a total of 15 people dead in the three countries.

In Greece, helicopters, unable to fly earlier due to frequent lightning, began plucking people from flooded areas and winching them to safety on Thursday afternoon.

At least three villages in central Greece were completely cut off by floodwaters, with residents ringing radio stations to report homes collapsing and to appeal for rescue.

The body of one man who had been reported missing on Wednesday was recovered from a stream on Thursday, bringing the country's death toll from the floods to four.

Vassilis Kikilias, Greece's minister for climate crisis and civil protection, said more than 885 people had been rescued so far and six were reported missing. The military said it had deployed more than 25 boats to rescue people trapped by floodwater, while seven helicopters and a military transport plane were on standby.

“Our country finds itself, for the third day, dealing with a phenomenon the likes of which we have not seen in the past,” Greek government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis said, noting that some areas received more than twice the average annual rainfall of Athens in the space of 12 hours.

Fire department spokesman Vasilis Vathrakogiannis said swift water rescue specialists and divers from the department’s disaster response units, as well as the army, were participating in rescue efforts and trying to reach remote areas despite roads having been washed away.

The flooding followed on the heels of devastating wildfires that destroyed vast tracts of forest and farmland, burned homes and left more than 20 people dead.

Tracked vehicles and boats were being used to help evacuate people, but the boats were unable to reach some areas due to the large volume of debris and the strength of the torrents of floodwaters, authorities said.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis postponed his annual state of the economy speech and a news conference scheduled for the weekend in the northern city of Thessaloniki in order to visit the flooded areas.

Police have banned traffic from three regions, including on the island of Skiathos. They have also sent numerous emergency phone alerts to people in several parts of the country to avoid venturing outdoors and to move away from basement and ground floor areas of buildings.

The storm, dubbed Daniel, was forecast to begin easing gradually from Thursday evening.

On Wednesday, repeated rainstorms also hit Athens, flooding streets and turning part of a major avenue in central Athens into a river of mud that swept people off their feet.

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