At least 14 people have been killed by flash floods that turned roads into raging torrents of mud and debris on the fringes of Greece’s capital. The floods have engulfed homes, businesses and knocked out a section of one of the major highway.
Rescue crews are still searching for potentially missing persons amidst fears that the death toll could rise further in flooded homes and streets on the western outskirts of Greece’s capital.
The flood came following a severe overnight storm that brought driving rain to the area. The roads have turned into muddy rivers that carried away vehicles, tossing them into piles on roadsides and against fences and buildings. The floods have also caused significant damage to several walls from yards and low buildings collapsing, filling the streets with rubbles.
Four women and eight were found dead near Mandra, a small town on the western outskirts of Athens that was hardest-hit by the flood. The bodies of two more men were also recovered by the coast guard leading to speculation that they may have been swept out to sea by the fierce floods.
Several victims are also undergoing treatment in a hospital after succumbing to various injuries. The floodwaters also sunk fishing boats in a small harbor.
Reports from the fire department indicate that it had received more than 600 calls for help pumping water out of buildings and had rescued 86 people trapped in vehicles and homes. It said it had deployed 190 firefighters with 55 vehicles. All fire services across the wider Athens area had been put on alert as more bad weather was forecast for the area Wednesday night.
One of the highway sections between Athens and Corinth was completely knocked out, with cars, trucks, and buses trapped in an inundated underpass.
An immediate investigation has been ordered by judicial authorities into the deaths and material damage. Investigators would be looking into whether factors such as shoddy or illegal construction might have contributed to the severity of the flooding.
Adverse weather was predicted for large swaths of Greece later Wednesday and in coming days, with storms predicted for western Greece and for parts of the Greek capital. The deaths follow a state of emergency declaration that was issued by authorities on the small Aegean Sea island of Symi due to torrential rainfall there that flooded homes and shops, swept vehicles into the sea and cut power after the local power station was flooded.