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Record rains flood Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria, killing at least 7 people

Torrential rains triggered major flooding in central Greece on Tuesday, which swamped streets and caused extensive damage, just as firefighters brought massive wildfires under control across the country. One man is dead and at least one person is missing.

In neighboring Bulgaria and Turkey, at least six other people have died in rain-triggered flooding, including two swept away at a campsite in northwest Turkey, two in Istanbul and two on the southern Black Sea coast in Bulgaria, according to the Associated Press. Four other people out of a dozen who were vacationing at the Turkish campsite are still missing on Tuesday evening.

As Greek television showed half-submerged cars stuck in flooded streets and vehicles washed into the sea or on muddy beaches, police banned traffic in three regions. The ban came a day after warnings from local authorities and Greek firefighters urged people to avoid unnecessary travel when the wet front, Storm Daniel, hit.

Greek firefighters say a 51-year-old Albanian national died after a wall collapsed on top of him; State media identified him as a cattle rancher trying to reach his animals. A 42-year-old Greek man was missing after getting out of his car in an attempt to push his 16-year-old son to safety amid raging floodwaters, fire department spokesman Vassilis Vathrakoyiannis said by phone. “The boy was found in the car,” he said. “We are still looking for the father.”

The damage came days after major flooding elsewhere in Europe: in Spain, slow storm Dana brought exceptional rains, leaving a trail of destruction and killing at least five people since Saturday.

Two canyoning experts drowned in flash flooding in a ravine in the Spanish Pyrenees on Saturday, according to local media, when rain increased the water tenfold in minutes. In Casarrubios del Monte, a village near Toledo that was flooded overnight from Sunday to Monday, a 20-year-old man died when floodwaters poured into an elevator where he became stuck. Two other victims near Toledo, one of whom was carried away by his car, were found on Monday.

Early Monday morning, a 10-year-old child was found perched on a tree he had clung to all night after his family’s car fell into the Alberche River in Aldea del Fresno, a village outside Madrid which was isolated after three of its bridges collapsed and the fourth was closed. The boy had injuries and symptoms of hypothermia, according to local media. His mother and sister were found alive, but The Spanish Civil Guard was still looking for his father.

The storm is expected to subside by Tuesday evening, according to Spanish weather agency AEMET. Footage released to Spanish media on Tuesday showed residents pumping water through windows and sweeping mud and debris from their front doors.

In Greece, flooding particularly affected the port of Volos, around 320 kilometers north of Athens, and the nearby mountain village of Pelion, with Greek firefighters receiving 400 calls for help in the wider area, Magnesia (although most were not emergencies). Video from Volos shows partially submerged cars on the streets and people being carried through floodwaters by rescuers in plastic boats.

In Pelion, a resident, Iro Proia, posted a live video on Facebook showing a car washed out to sea and calling for help, saying residents were stuck.

Earlier on Tuesday, Volos Mayor Achilleas Beos waded through knee-deep water in the city as motorists sat in partially submerged cars, shouting at them, “Where are you going? It’s insane! Go home! We’ve been telling you since yesterday, there’s a lot of water coming! The rivers will come out of their beds. »

The torrential rains follow major wildfires that have strained Greece’s fire services this summer, with the worst of them ravaging the northern region of Evros for more than two weeks, killing 20 people. and reducing huge tracts of forest to ashes.

Mr Vathrakoyiannis, spokesman for the fire service, said authorities had been sending messages since Monday warning people to stay at home. He said rescuers had brought 10 people to safety in plastic boats and noted that most of the 400 calls for help from the Magnesia region were not urgent. “Many belonged to elderly people who feared the floods would spread,” he said. “Most were not in danger,” he added.

Inland from Volos, the towns of Larisa and Kileler in central Greece were also hit by the storms, with firefighters called to respond to dozens of flooded homes and shops, as were the island of Skiathos, where a video shows the streets turned into muddy rivers Tuesday afternoon.

The extent of the damage is unclear, but local media reported that at least two rivers had lost their beds. Greek state television broadcast footage of a bridge in Volos collapsing after its bed with the Krafsidonas river broke.

The Greek weather service’s online portal, meteo.gr, reported that the Pelion region received 650 millimeters, or more than 25 inches, of rain between midnight and 3 p.m. Tuesday. He noted, for comparison, that the average annual rainfall in the Greek capital was around 400 millimeters. “We almost couldn’t believe these predictions,” said Konstantinos Lagouvardos, research director at the National Observatory in Athens. “It’s a number we’ve never seen before. It’s unreal,” he said.

The whole region of Thessaly in central Greece also received “a very large volume of rain”, the meteorological service said.

Although the rain eased on Tuesday afternoon, firefighters and local authorities remained on alert as stormy weather is expected to continue through Thursday in Magnesia. Authorities’ biggest concern is that more rivers are overflowing, the fire department spokesman said.

Greek Minister of Civil Protection, Vassilis Kikilias, called on the population to follow the instructions of the authorities, because the crisis is not over. “After a brief easing, the situation will resume in the morning,” he said, calling on citizens to “be careful and not move”.

Rachel Chaudler contributed reporting from Zaragoza, Spain.

nytimes Eur

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