Storms kill three, cause major damage

Serious flooding provoked by heavy rainfall and hailstorms in the Peloponnese and northern Greece has caused massive damage as well as claiming the lives of three people.

Apart from the 82-year-old woman who was found drowned near her home in the village of Lithari on Sunday, a 75-year-old motorcyclist was killed on the Ionian island of Corfu when he was struck by a tree uprooted amid strong winds, and in the village of Avlaki in Aetoloacarnania, a 75-year-old woman was crushed when an outdoor structure collapsed under the weight of the snow that had accumulated on it.

In northern Greece, several homes were flooded, with the prefectures of Xanthi and Rhodope particularly badly hit.

The Peloponnesian prefecture of Ileia, which has still not recovered from massive forest fires that devastated the region in 2007, suffered major damages over the weekend due to extensive flooding.

Authorities had declared a state of emergency in the prefecture?s capital of Pyrgos on Sunday and had sought to divert the waters of the River Alfeios, which broke its banks following the heavy rainfall, to tributaries.

The regional fire service continued to receive dozens of calls from citizens seeking help for flooded basement stores or homes yesterday.

Meanwhile state inspectors started the tough job of assessing the extent of the damage — to homes, public property and farmland. Their task was hampered by fresh rainfall which is set to continue, according to meteorologists.

In Attica, stormy weather led to several roads being closed due to flooding and knocked out the power supply in several neighborhoods, especially in southern and western Athens. The fire service was inundated with calls, chiefly reports of trees uprooted by winds reaching 10 on the Beaufort scale. Similar problems were reported in several smaller cities.

A number of scheduled ferry departures were canceled yesterday as gale-force winds in many parts made it too dangerous for ships to sail. Ferries are expected to remain moored in port today, irrespective of the weather, as seamen have said they will join a 24-hour strike called by labor unions.