The army, firefighters and civil protection are on Thursday on a war footing to deal with the floods caused by torrential rains which once again hit central Greece, three weeks after the deadly storm Daniel.
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Since Wednesday evening, a new storm called Elias has mainly affected the city of Volos, capital of Magnesia, the island of Euboea and the department of Fthiotida, leading to the flooding of torrents, landslides, ruptures of dams , flooding of roads and homes, according to firefighters.
More than 250 people have been rescued since Wednesday by firefighters, supported by the army, who use rubber boats and special vehicles to access the affected areas.
Due to bad weather, a two-seater private helicopter went down late Thursday morning off the island of Euboea and searches are underway to find the passengers, firefighters said.
Much of Volos is without power and sections of the local hospital have been flooded but the facility remains operational.
“Our thoughts today are on Volos and Euboea,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said during a meeting with his right-wing parliamentary group.
According to the weather forecast, the storm is expected to weaken on Thursday evening but “the rescue forces will remain on site,” said Vassilios Vathrakoyanis, spokesperson for the firefighters on public television Ert.
With around 140,000 inhabitants, Volos is recovering with difficulty after storm Daniel at the beginning of September which dumped downpours of water in Thessaly, the main agricultural production plain in Greece, around 400km north of Athens.
Volos was then deprived of drinking water for more than two weeks and the damage suffered by the local distribution network has not yet been fully repaired.
“It was only this week that the authorities completed the cleaning of the areas affected (by storm Daniel, editor’s note),” said Eleni Konstantatou, a resident of Volos.
“Yesterday (Wednesday) it started to rain but we thought it was a light shower, we didn’t expect the area to be flooded again…. We are back to square one,” she laments to AFP.
Storm Daniel left 17 dead in Thessaly, destroying crops and killing tens of thousands of livestock.
After Greece, Daniel struck Libya last week, killing at least 3,875 people.