Two Dead As Destructive Storm Ianos Hits Central Greece

Two Dead As Destructive Storm Ianos Hits Central Greece
Firefighters remove a fallen tree from a road in the island of Zakynthos, as a rare storm, known as a Medicane (Mediterranean hurricane), hit western Greece, on Sept. 18, 2020. (Eurokinissi via Reuters)

ATHENS—Two people have died as a hurricane-like storm pounded central Greece, flooding streets and homes, the authorities said on Saturday.

Cyclone Ianos, known as a medicane (Mediterranean hurricane), uprooted trees and caused power cuts on the Ionian islands and the western Peloponnese. It swept through central Greece, hitting areas in and around the cities of Karditsa and Farsala.

The body of an elderly woman was found in a flooded house in a village near Farsala, while a 63-year-old man was found dead in Karditsa, fire brigade officials said.

The search is continuing for two other people who have been reported missing, the officials added.

“We’re dealing with a total catastrophe,” Nikolaos Gousios, a resident at Farsala, told state TV.

The heavy rainfall turned Karditsa, in one of Greece’s biggest plains, into a lake. Video footage showed flooded highways and agricultural land turned into mud lakes and farmers carrying their sheep to rescue.

Reuters images captured an overflowing river flooding its banks and damaging roads. A medical center in the town of Mouzaki partially collapsed.

Train connections between Athens and the northern city of Thessaloniki were suspended.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the government will provide economic relief to the affected areas.

“Saving human lives is our priority,” he said.

The fire brigade said it had received more than 2,450 calls for assistance to rescue trapped people, cut down trees, and pump out water from homes and stores.

On Saturday, the storm reached the greater Athens region, Attica. There were no reports of damage.

Cyclones were first recorded in Greece in 1995 and have become more frequent in recent years. Flash floods in 2017 killed 25 people and left hundreds homeless.

By Lefteris Papadimas