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Athens: Fierce rainstorms have battered Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria, triggering flooding that caused at least seven deaths, including two holidaymakers swept away by a torrent that raged through a campsite in north-western Turkey.
Turkish Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said four other people were missing after the flash flood swept over the campsite in Kirklareli province, near the border with Bulgaria. He said about 12 tourists were at the site when the waters hit.
Firefighters evacuate people and dogs from a flooded building in Larissa, central Greece, on Wednesday.Credit: AP
In Greece, police banned traffic in the central town of Volos, the nearby mountain region of Pilion and the resort island of Skiathos as record rainfall caused at least one death, channelled thigh-high torrents through streets and swept cars away.
The fire department said on Wednesday (AEST) that one man was killed near Volos when a wall buckled and fell on him. Five people were reported missing, possibly swept away by floodwaters.
Authorities sent mobile phone alerts in several other areas of central Greece, the Sporades island chain and the island of Evia warning people to limit their movements outdoors.
Floodwaters cover the town of Volos, Greece, on Tuesday.Credit: InTime News/AP
Streams overflowed their banks and swept cars into the sea in the Pilion area, while rockfalls blocked roads, a small bridge was carried away and many areas suffered electricity cuts. Authorities evacuated a retirement home in the city of Volos as a precaution.
Greece’s weather service said a Pilion region village received 75.4 centimetres of rain late on Tuesday, Greek time, by far the highest level recorded since at least 2006. It noted that the average annual rainfall in the Athens region is around 40 centimetres.
The country’s minister of climate crisis and civil protection, Vassilis Kikilias, said the heavy rain was expected to ease up on Wednesday afternoon. He advised people in affected areas to stay indoors.
The storm comes on the heels of major summer bushfires that hit Greece over the past few weeks, with some burning for more than two weeks and destroying vast tracts of forest and farmland. More than 20 people were killed in the fires.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis blamed both the bushfires and storms on climate change, while conceding that his centre-right government “clearly didn’t manage things as well as we would have liked” on the wildfire front.
“I am afraid that the careless summers, as we knew them … will cease to exist and from now on, the coming summers are likely to be ever more difficult,” he said.
The morning after flooding rains in Istanbul, Turkey, on Wednesday.Credit: DIA/AP
Turkish search teams located two bodies, the interior minister said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “The search and rescue efforts for the missing [four] continue uninterrupted,” he added.
Television footage showed rescuers carrying a young girl and an adult to safety from waters reaching waist-high in some areas. The rains also damaged and forced the closure of a main road, HaberTurk television reported.
In Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, heavy rain flooded streets and homes in two neighbourhoods, leaving at least two dead, according to a statement from the governor’s office. Around a dozen people were rescued after being stranded inside a library, while some subway stations were closed. Istanbul Governor Davut Gul urged motorcyclists to stay home.
Heavy rains caused flooding in Istanbul.Credit: DIA/AP
In Bulgaria, Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov said two people had died and three others were missing after a storm caused floods on the country’s southern Black Sea coast.
Overflowing rivers caused severe damage to roads and bridges. The area also suffered power blackouts, and authorities warned residents not to drink tap water due to contamination from floodwaters.
High winds sent two-metre waves crashing onto beaches at tourist resorts amid torrential rain that flooded streets and houses.
TV footage showed cars and camper vans being swept out to sea in the hardest-hit southern resort town of Tsarevo. Authorities declared a state of emergency in Tsarevo and urged people to move upstairs as the ground floors of some hotels were inundated.
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