Powerful storms raged over Greece’s northern Halkidiki region Wednesday, leaving at least six people dead and 20 injured as trees and electricity pylons toppled over, power was knocked out, and roads were blocked.
Police and fire services said the deaths occurred late Wednesday in three separate incidents.
Two elderly Czech tourists were killed when strong winds and water swept away their travel trailer, according to police.
Elsewhere in the region, a woman and an eight-year-old boy, both Romanian nationals, were killed after a roof collapsed on a restaurant in Nea Plagia. A man and a young boy, both Russians, died after a tree collapsed near their hotel in the seaside town of Potidea, authorities said.
“It is the first time in my 25-year career that I have lived through something like this,” Athansios Kaltsas, director of the medical centre in Nea Moudania, where many of the injured were treated for fractures, told Greek television.
“It was so abrupt, and so sudden.”
Kaltsas said patients taken to the clinic ranged in age from eight months to over 70 years old. Some suffered head injuries from trees and other falling objects, he said.
The Halkidiki region, a three-finger peninsula near the northern city of Thessaloniki, has multiple seaside resorts and is popular with tourists in the summer.
‘Extremely unusual’ weather
The fire service said it rescued 30 people from buildings due to the bad weather and that personnel outside the affected region were on standby in case more rescues were needed.
Earlier, in southern Greece, eight migrants, including two children, were injured when high winds blew a tree down onto a tent at a camp for migrants and refugees in Oinofyta, about 60 kilometres north of the Greek capital, Athens. Everyone who was injured was hospitalized.
Greece has set up dozens of migrant camps across the country following 2016 agreements that limited travel of asylum seekers to other European Union countries.
The strong winds, combined with temperatures of 37 C, also fanned three large wildfires in southern Greece.
Such severe weather in Greece is “extremely unusual” for this time of year, said meteorologist Klearxos Marousakis. Summers in the European country are typically hot and dry. Meteorologists forecast it would continue to rain in the area into Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, authorities declared Halkidiki in a state of emergency, and Greece’s newly appointed citizens’ protection minister was due to visit early on Thursday.