by Aggelos Skordas
Flash floods in Mandra and Nea Peramos, Western Attica, claimed 15 lives and left more than a dozen injured and hospitalised, on Wednesday. Among the victims, most of whom have already been identified by relatives, are 10 men and five women, while one man is declared missing and an injured woman has been placed on life support. Authorities express fears that the death toll might rise after rescue teams reach flooded buildings and isolated areas.
The extremely heavy rainfall that started early in the morning and continued until midday on the western outskirts of Athens left flooded roads and neighbours turned to muddy torrents, while hundreds of homes and business were severely damaged leaving hundreds homeless. Buildings collapsed, while cars, motorbikes and trucks were thrown across the streets. In the small harbor of Nea Peramos more than five fishing boats have sunk and floodwaters carried debris damaging roads and buildings, namely mostly illegal constructions of homes.
Thirteen of those killed were found in Mandra and were discovered inside their flooded homes, while the Hellenic Coast Guard recovered the bodies of two women from the sea. The Fire Service received more than 600 emergency calls from people trapped in flooded basements, homes, businesses and cars stranded in floodwaters. Among those rescued were 12 passengers of an intercity bus that was stuck on Athens – Patras national road, part of which was turned into river of mud. Mandra’s Fire Department is being assisted since Wednesday morning by other departments throughout Attica, and neighbouring regions. In total, there are 190 firemen and 55 vehicles operating on spot to assist people in emergency. According to ministers of the Interior, Citizen Protection and Public Order, National Defense and Infrastructure, Fire Brigade and rescue services will continue operations overnight until Thursday morning. Prosecutor Ilias Zagoreos ordered an urgent investigation into the cause of the deadly floods.
At the same time, there are concerns of further disasters as meteorologists warned of more heavy rainfalls throughout the country until Saturday morning. Storms are predicted mostly for Western Greece as well as Athens.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras declared Wednesday a day of national mourning. “It is a very difficult time for all of Greece. We are experiencing a great disaster. Until know, we mourn 14 [at the time] dead in Mandra and Nea Peramos. Our wish is that this number does not grow. I want to express my deep sorrow, sincere condolences to the families of the victims. And I want to pledge that we will stand by them with all the means in our disposal”, he said, adding that no one will be left homeless and measures will be taken immediately to support those affected.
On his behalf main opposition New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mistotakis described the event as an unspeakable tragedy. “I express my deep anguish for the destruction, the loss of property and, above all, the loss of our fellow human beings. The State must stand by the inhabitants and provide them with all possible support as soon as possible”, he added.
In a Twitter post, President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades said he spoke with Greece’s Premier to whom he expressed his condolences for the dead adding that Cyprus is ready to assist Greece: “We are ready to offer any humanitarian help that is required”, he tweeted.
“I am saddened to learn about the many people who have lost their lives and loved ones during the deadly floods affecting central Greece. On behalf of the whole European Commission, I would like to express our full solidarity with the Greek people and authorities at this difficult time. A tragedy in any of our Member States is a tragedy for all of Europe. We stand ready to support Greece in any way we can. Our EU emergency assistance tools are at the full disposal of the authorities”, a statement issued by the President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker reads.
The US Embassy in Greece also expressed its deepest sorrow and condolences to the families of the victims of the flash floods. We express our deepest sorrow and offer our condolences to the families of flood victims in the towns of Mandra, Nea Peramos and Megara”, the embassy tweeted.
*Exclusive images by GCT (Copyright)