A number of flights and ferry services were canceled in Athens and Thessaloniki yesterday as heavy rainfall and high winds swept across the country, authorities said, forcing at least three large-scale sea rescue operations. Authorities said adverse weather conditions grounded some flights to islands in the Aegean while ferries remained anchored at the port of Piraeus for most of the day. Coast guards were busy across the country. Late yesterday, rescue teams were searching for a sailboat that sent out a distress call some 90 miles south of the Peloponnese. The Ukraine-flagged boat had a seven-person crew on board. Earlier in the day, coast guards mounted rescue operations to aid two North Korean-flagged merchant ships stranded in gale-force storms in the eastern and northern Aegean. The captain of the first vessel, which suffered mechanical failure near the island of Evia, refused help from rescue teams while crew members were evacuated from the second ship, which ran aground off Thasos. There were no reports of injuries among the crews of either vessel. The bad weather caused flooding in different parts of Attica, such as in Marathon, but was generally milder than expected, particularly in Athens. A number of villages in northern Greece were cut off because of snow-covered roads, while several schools were also shut for the day.