Greece hit with flash flooding while recovering from its deadliest bushfires in history

Greece hit with flash flooding while recovering from its deadliest bushfires in history

27 July 2018

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GREECE – GREECE has been hit by devastating flash floods — as the country still reels from the savage wildfires which ripped through the Attica region of the country.

Heavy summer rainstorms over the past two days have caused flooding in several parts of Greece, as shocking aerial pictures have shown the seaside town of Mati destroyed by flames, The Sun reports.

The country’s civil protection agency said yesterday that the fire brigade responded to 160 calls for help in the area of Mandra and Nea Peramos southwest of Athens as a result of the flash floods — the same areas which were ravaged by the winter floods in 2017, killing 24.

Fifteen people needed to be evacuated from flooded homes or cars on Tuesday, officials said.

Floodwaters also forced the closure of several roads in the area, and the fire brigade said 95 firefighters with 40 vehicles and a boat were helping to address the situation.

Flooding problems were also reported in the Halkidiki region of northern Greece, a popular tourist destination, and near Larissa in central Greece.

The devastating floods come as aerial photos show the catastrophic aftermath of wildfires in the seaside resort of Mati on the country’s southern coast, which started on Monday but have since dampened down.

The fires — the deadliest in the country’s history — overwhelmed the resort town at the height of the tourist season, forcing residents and holiday-makers to run for their lives and plunge into the sea.

The horror blaze killed at least 82 people, with around 200 thought to be missing although there is no official number of those unaccounted for as emergency workers continue to search for bodies, officials said.

In the aerial photos of Mati, the destroyed seaside community appears singed and grey, with burnt out trees and shells of buildings.

In other pictures high rise buildings stand above the scorched earth.

Speaking with Sky News, Greece’s interior minister Panos Skourletis described the fires as a “national tragedy” and a “biblical disaster with human losses”.

Authorities in Greece have now said there are “serious indications” that the deadly wildfire was started by arson.

Earlier today, Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos told the BBC illegal construction contributed to the wildfire disaster.

He said building by residents between wooded areas was a “crime” that had resulted in blocking escape routes.

“This is a crime from the past. This coast of Athens, all these properties, the majority are without a licence, and they have occupied the coast without rules,” Mr Kammenos said.

And outside the coroner’s service in Athens, the mood was grim as relatives of victims arrived to submit information and blood samples which could assist identifications.

“This is a difficult process, more difficult than other mass disasters we have dealt with,” said coroner Nikolaos Kalogrias, adding that the bodies of most of the victims were completely charred, making identification difficult.

Previously, a distraught Greek father frantically searched for his missing twin daughters after believing he had spotted them on TV — only to discover it wasn’t them.

Yiannis Philipopoulos made a heartbreaking televised appeal yesterday asking for help to locate Sophia and Vasiliki, both aged nine, who vanished amid the chaos of the deadly wildfires in southern Greece.

He insisted he had spotted his precious girls on a news report — wrapped in blankets on a rescue boat in the port of Rafina.

The brave father and his wife then spent a fruitless day searching hospitals and giving DNA samples at the Athens morgue.

But another man has since come forward to say the youngsters in the footage belong to him — meaning Sophia and Vasiliki remain missing and are feared dead.

The remains of Irish honeymooner Brian O’Callaghan-Westropp have been found after he and his new wife were swept up in the hellish flames in the coastal town of Mati.

His new bride Zoe Holohan, who he married on Thursday, is currently being treated for serious burns in Athens.

They became separated in the panic as the town became overrun by a wall of flames — which authorities believe were started by arsonists before being fanned by strong gales.

Initially Mr O’Callaghan-Westropp had been reported missing, but the Irish ambassador to Greece confirmed his body had tragically been found.

Ambassador Orla O’Hanrahan said: “Our sympathies and hearts go out to his family at this time.”

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