Storms cause flooding

Hours of heavy rain over the weekend caused serious flooding in many parts of the country, killing one person and damaging hundreds of homes, farms and roads. The hardest hit region was that of Rhodope, in northeastern Greece, where prefectural authorities declared a state of emergency. In Komotini, Rhodope’s capital, dozens of residents abandoned their homes after heavy rain turned the roads into rivers. Cars and agricultural vehicles in nearby farms disappeared under water. The region of Evros, near the Turkish border, was badly hit after the Ardas River burst its banks. Flooding also hit parts of the Peloponnese that had been ravaged by catastrophic fires in August. One bridge collapsed and several more were damaged by torrents of floodwater after the Alfeios River overflowed. Anti-flood barriers, hastily erected in the area after the fires, minimized damage but local authorities feared they would break if the rain continued. Roads and crops were also damaged, while there were reports of landslides in some areas. A small tornado caused havoc in the village of Loutoufi in Viotia prefecture, central Greece, uprooting trees and wrecking the roofs of houses. The fire service was stretched to the limit, receiving hundreds of calls over the weekend from residents trapped in cars or homes. Two men trapped in a car swept away by floodwater near Trikala were eventually rescued after the vehicle struck a large rock by the roadside. Rescue workers reported one death, that of a 30-year-old Indian man who was swept away by floodwater after a stream broke its bank in the area of Megara. His body was found in a field. The army was mobilized to provide assistance at the weekend, sending military trucks to evacuate citizens from dozens of isolated villages, chiefly in northeastern Greece. Macedonia-Thrace Minister Margaritis Tzimas, who met with regional and local authority leaders in Komotini yesterday, described the rescue effort as «an admirable model of cooperation between the state and local government,» adding that he believed «we have got over the worst.»