Floods ravage homes, farms in the north

A state of emergency was declared by the government in the prefecture of Thessaloniki yesterday after torrential rain flooded dozens of homes and agricultural land and swept a motorist away in his car. Rescue workers last night continued their search for the 25-year-old motorist whose car was carried off into a flooded river in Argolida on Saturday. The man’s car was discovered yesterday morning a «considerable distance» from where he had been spotted but there was no sign of the driver. According to a witness, the 25-year-old had attempted to cross the flooded road after watching a truck manage it successfully. Heavy rain caused widespread damage to roads too, particularly to the old Thessaloniki-Kavala national road which was cut in two when a bridge collapsed. The Egnatia Highway, which had been closed yesterday morning after landslides, had been due to reopen late yesterday. The areas worst hit by floods included the village of Melisourgo, northeast of Thessaloniki, where more than 200 homes were flooded. Some 18 villagers were rescued by boat after water levels on the streets rose to 3 meters. Meanwhile a rescue helicopter evacuated five people from a flooded field in Kalivia, near Agrinion, and another three helicopters were dispatched to Halkidiki to free several people trapped in flooded homes. Residents of Volvi, and other areas, were left without electricity. The fire service said it had received dozens of calls to pump out flooded homes and stores but stressed that no one was «in any immediate danger.» Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said that damage assessment would begin as soon as possible and that losses would be compensated. Meanwhile, people whose homes have become uninhabitable will be put up in hotels, the secretary-general for Civil Protection, Panayiotis Fourlas, told state television. «We mounted a huge rescue effort to ensure there were no fatalities,» Fourlas said. He said some 95 people were involved in the operation to rescue flood-stricken residents by boat and helicopter.