Friday 19 July 2019

Seven killed, 140 injured as violent storm batters Greek tourist resorts

Force of nature: A man cycles through the debris after the storm hit Nea Plagia village, Halkidiki. Photo: AP
Force of nature: A man cycles through the debris after the storm hit Nea Plagia village, Halkidiki. Photo: AP

Costas Kantouris

Two children were among the seven people killed and more than 140 injured when a powerful storm hit northern Greece.

The storm in the northern Halkidiki peninsula ripped up trees and power pylons, overturned vehicles and left swathes of debris across the coast.

Police said more than 140 people were injured, most of them lightly, in Wednesday's storm. Paramedics treated 65 of the injured.

Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said 23 people remained in hospital yesterday, including one woman in a critical condition in intensive care.

Two of those killed were Russian, two were Romanian and another two were from the Czech Republic.

The coast guard said patrol boats also found the body of a 62-year-old fisherman who had been missing off the Halkidiki coast after he took his fishing boat out in the afternoon before the storm struck.

A state of emergency was declared in the region, a three-finger peninsula near the northern city of Thessaloniki popular with tourists in the summer months.

Two of those who died were killed when high winds overturned their vehicle, while an eight-year-old boy and his mother were killed when an outdoor restaurant's lean-to roof collapsed. Another two were killed by falling trees.

Crews were working to restore power that was knocked out across 80pc of the area, while the fire service said it had received more than 600 requests for assistance, including for rescues, to cut fallen trees and pump water from flooded basements.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who was elected on Sunday and just formed his government, appointed public order minister Michalis Chrisochoidis to head the response effort while the army was helping repair crews.

The storm followed a spell of very hot weather, with temperatures soaring to 37C. Winds of more than 100kmh were recorded.

Meanwhile, hail the size of oranges has injured 18 people in an Italian Adriatic city, while a blaze in Sicily forced beach-goers to flee.

Italian news agency Ansa quoted hospital officials in Pescara as saying the hailstorm caused cuts and bruises, especially to people's heads.

Elsewhere in south-central Italy, hail in Venafro broke windows and windshields.

On the outskirts of San Vito Lo Capo, a Sicilian beach town, it was reported that 750 holidaymakers were able to return to their resort after flames, whipped up by the wind, had forced their evacuation by sea.

In other bad weather in Italy, a tornado swept through the area of Milano Marittima, knocking down some 200 century-old pine trees in the popular Adriatic Sea resort.

Irish Independent

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