At least three people have been killed and hundreds rescued in Greece after a rare storm system known as the “doctor” caused severe flooding after making landfall on Friday, officials said.
The storm, named Ianos, hit the Ionian Islands and the western Peloponnese on Friday before hitting the rest of the country on Saturday.
“We are facing a total disaster,” a resident of Farsala said on state television.
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Authorities said on Saturday they had identified two people killed in the floodwaters, as an elderly woman was found dead in her flooded home in the Thessaly region and a 63-year-old shepherd was swept away by rising seas. waters.
They also said a woman who was missing ignored instructions from firefighters and police not to drive in an area where a bridge spans a river.
The Athens News Agency reported on Sunday that a man’s body was found under a collapsed roof near Karditsa.
Some 5,000 homes were flooded in Karditsa due to heavy rains from the storm, which Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to visit in the coming days, Sky News reported.
On Saturday, the country’s firefighting service said it had received some 2,500 calls from trapped residents in central and western Greece about clearing fallen trees that were blocking roads. Emergency officials have rescued more than 600 people since the storm made landfall.
Greek rail operator TrainOSE said the service connecting southern and northern Greece had been suspended due to the impacts of the storm.
Water from a river that burst its banks damaged at least two bridges and several buildings, including the local health center in the Thessaly town of Mouzaki, which collapsed.
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Parts of the disaster area were also without electricity.
The storm made landfall on Friday with lots of strong winds and sea foam.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said the storm system was a hybrid between a tropical cyclone and a mid-latitude storm.
“It’s a MEDIterranean hurricane that brings strong winds and waves and torrential rains and floods,” the WMO tweeted.
According to the agency, these hybrid storms have strong winds circling around a core with torrential rains and also feature an eye that makes them similar to hurricanes.
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But there are differences, including medicanes which are generally smaller than hurricanes and may only exist for 24 to 48 hours. These storms are also less intense, with the most severe medicanes reaching only the strength of a Category 1 hurricane.
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“Activity peaks historically between September and January,” WMO said on Friday. “Greece was last hit by a powerful medic in 2018.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.