Snow and gales cause havoc

Dozens of high-lying villages across Greece were cut off from the rest of the country by heavy snowfall yesterday, while a swollen torrent claimed the life of a man in northern Greece, two days after a schoolteacher and his young son drowned in their car trying to cross a flooded bridge in Epirus. Antonis Gatzounis, 57, died trying to ford a stream that had risen in spate, to reach the village of Nea Ephesus in the Pieria prefecture. Gales in the Aegean prevented ferries from leaving Piraeus for the archipelago, and several Olympic Airways flights to the islands were canceled. The weather is expected to deteriorate further tomorrow. Snow fell in much of Attica yesterday, dusting the higher reaches of Mt Hymettus and settling deep on the mountains of Parnitha and Pendeli, the road approaches to which could only be negotiated by vehicles using snow chains. The same applied to a long section of the old national road to Thebes, in the hills north of Mandra. Strong winds also played havoc with the power network, causing blackouts in many parts of northern Attica. Heavy snowfall in the environs of Patras, in the northwestern Peloponnese led to several mountain villages being cut off, while similar problems were experienced in northern Greece. On the island of Samos, in the seaside area of Marathocambos a state of emergency was declared after waves demolished a 60-meter quay, sinking several moored boats. Torrential rainfall this week led to landslides that destroyed a new part of the national road linking the Peloponnesian towns of Megalopolis and Kalamata. Yesterday, the government said it would cost 2 million euros to repair the three-year-old road, which will not be ready until August.