Winter sets in, Evros flood feared

As most of Greece was caught in winter’s grip yesterday with protracted snowfall in much of Epirus, Macedonia and Thrace, army, fire brigade and police forces were placed in a state of emergency along the northeastern border with Turkey, where the swollen Evros River came close to breaking its banks. At the other end of the northern frontier, near the village of Ieropighi in the Kastoria area, border guards late on Sunday found the frozen body of a teenager from Albania in the snowy hills near the Albanian border. Ervil Nastimi, 16, is believed to have died of exposure after illegally crossing into Greece. Another four Albanians were reported missing in the Grammos Mountains on the border, having also illegally entered Greece through the rugged frontier terrain. Also in the Kastoria area, police yesterday located the body of a 63-year-old shepherd from the village of Aposkepou. Nikolaos Liapas had been missing since Saturday. A search was also mounted for 49-year-old hunter Nikos Karanis, who failed to turn up on Sunday night after an expedition at the mouth of the Gallikos River in the vicinity of Thessaloniki. Temperatures in most of northern Greece yesterday were sub-freezing, with a record low of -17 degrees Centigrade (1F), and schools were shut in the areas of Kilkis, Kozani and Florina. Meanwhile in Thrace, the Evros River rose to 5.6 meters yesterday afternoon, just half a meter below the top of the earthen dikes lining the river. One dike did not hold, causing some 100 hectares of land to be submerged under muddy floodwaters. However, local officials said the situation was under control. After heavy rain on Saturday, Evros farmers and fishermen, as well as army troops, were told to keep clear of the river for fear of flooding.

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