Heavy rain wreaks havoc

As the heavy rain eased off last night, a state of emergency was in effect in many parts of Greece after the unprecedented amount of water that swept through the country caused significant damage to crops and homes and led directly to one person’s death. The National Meteorological Service (EMY) said the rain over the last three days was 2.5 times higher than normal for Greece during the whole of November. EMY’s weather station in the Peloponnesian city of Kalamata registered 180 millimeters of rain for the three days. The total cost of the damage to homes, businesses and crops is not yet known. A 52-year-old woman drowned in Gytheion, in the southern Peloponnese, when her car was swept away by a once-dry river that overflowed due to the torrential rain. Another person was injured in Kiato, also in the Peloponnese, which saw some of the heaviest rain during the week. The prefectures of Messinia and Laconia were especially affected as dozens of houses and businesses flooded and roads were closed. Firefighters were called in to help strengthen the banks at various points along the Evrotas River, which flows through the city of Sparta, after it swelled to dangerous levels. A navy frigate rescued eight people from a Ukranian-flagged yacht some 90 kilometers southwest of the Peloponnese after it sent out a distress call on Wednesday night. The fire brigade in Attica answered close to 600 calls to help pump water out of buildings. Several roads in the city, including parts of central Athens, collapsed. Olympic Airlines was forced to cancel seven domestic flights from Athens to various islands yesterday because of the stormy weather. Aegean Airlines also canceled three flights. Many crops and roads were destroyed in Marathon and Nea Makri, northeast of Athens. The mayor of Nea Makri, Iordanis Loizos, said the situation had been exacerbated by poor workmanship before last year’s Olympic Games on Marathonas Avenue, which runs from Marathon to Athens. Deputy Public Works Minister Themistoklis Xanthopoulos denied the claims. He admitted, however, that authorities would need to spend a billion euros to strengthen Attica’s defenses against heavy rain and flooding.

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