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Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria Hit by Fatal Flash Floods

Greece’s climate crisis and civil protection minister, Vassilis Kikilias, said after an emergency cabinet meeting: “This is the most extreme phenomenon in terms of the maximum amount of rain in a 24-hour period since records began in the country.”

In Turkey, six holidaymakers were carried away by a torrent that raged through a campsite in the north-western Kırklareli province, near the border with Bulgaria. Two bodies were recovered on Tuesday night and three more on Wednesday.

Authorities said more than a dozen holidaymakers were on the site when the floods hit, sweeping away several bungalows. They said a search for the two missing holidaymakers was “continuing uninterrupted”.

Turkish television footage showed rescuers carrying a young girl and an adult to safety from waters that reached waist-high in some areas. The rains also damaged and forced the closure of a main road, Habertürk TV reported.

Two people were killed in Istanbul. Several underground stations were closed and about a dozen people were rescued after being stranded inside a flooded city library.

The overnight storm, which followed an unusually dry summer, flooded streets and stations and swept away cars and city market stalls.

The victims in Istanbul were a 32-year-old Guinean citizen trapped in a ground-floor apartment in the Küçükçekmece district, and a 57-year-old woman who died after being swept away. Elsewhere in the city, diners in a restaurant climbed on to the roof to escape the rising waters.

The surging flood waters affected more than 1,750 homes and businesses in the city, according to the governor’s office. They included a line of shops in the İkitelli district, where the deluge dragged parked vehicles and mud into furniture stores.

In eastern Greece, one man died in the coastal town of Volos when a wall collapsed on him, and the body of an 87-year-old woman was discovered in the nearby Pelion area on Wednesday, where a further four people have been reported missing. At least six villages in and around the Pelion mountain range suffered huge damage, local media reported.

“I have never seen anything like this,” Vassilis Tsalamouras, a 58-year-old resident of the central Greek city, told Agence France-Presse. “Thousands of shops and buildings have been flooded in Volos and no one is here to help us.”

Streams in the area overflowed their banks and carried cars into the sea, while rockfalls blocked roads, a small bridge was destroyed and many areas suffered electricity cuts. A hospital and nursing home in Volos were flooded and had to be evacuated.

According to the national meteorological service, one Pelion village recorded 750.4mm of rainfall in 24 hours, compared with an average annual rainfall in the Athens region of about 400mm.

The meteorologist Panagiotis Giannopoulos told the broadcaster ERT that “the amount of water that fell in 24 hours is the same as the usual rainfall for the whole of autumn”. Police banned travel to Volos, certain Pelion villages and the nearby island of Skiathos.

Authorities also sent a number of mobile phone alerts to inhabitants in other areas of central Greece, on the Sporades islands and on the island of Evia near Athens, warning them to limit their movements outdoors.

The flooding in Greece follows a string of ferocious wildfires this summer that killed more than 20 people, including a huge blaze that has been raging since 19 August and has destroyed swathes of the Dadia national park in the northern Evros region.

Classified as a “megafire”, the blaze – now under control – destroyed 81,000 hectares (200,155 acres) of forest land, protected by the European agency Natura 2000, almost half the total area burned by wildfires in Greece since the start of the summer.

The Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, blamed the wildfires and storms on the climate crisis, while conceding that his centre-right government “clearly didn’t manage things as well as we would have liked” in response to the fires.

“I am afraid that the careless summers, as we knew them … will cease to exist and from now on the coming summers are likely to be ever more difficult,” Mitsotakis said on Tuesday.

Farther north, on Bulgaria’s southern Black Sea coast, the body of a missing tourist was recovered from the sea on Wednesday, raising the death toll from flash floods in the country to three.

Border police vessels and drones were searching for another two people still listed as missing, while the area suffered power blackouts and authorities warned people not to drink tap water because of contamination from flood waters.

TV footage showed cars and camper vans being swept out to sea in the southern resort town of Tsarevo, where authorities declared a state of emergency. Most of the rivers in the region burst their banks and several bridges were destroyed.

The tourism minister, Zaritsa Dinkova, said about 4,000 people along the coast had been affected by the disaster. “There is a problem transporting tourists, because it is dangerous to go by coach on the roads affected by the floods,” she added.

Source : The Guardian