In a shocking incident, an Austrian couple celebrating their honeymoon in Greece were tragically swept to their death. Torrential downpours, a result of Storm Daniel that rampaged on the 6th of September, washed their holiday residence situated in the resort of Potistika near Mount Pelion, into the sea. The owner of the home, Thanasis Samaras, confirmed that the couple hailed from Graz, Austria.
The identities of the unfortunate pair, although not revealed publicly, were confirmed by the Austrian foreign ministry through DNA tests. Expressing profound sorrow, a spokesperson stated, “The comparisons of DNA profiles have now confirmed the identity of the two missing persons. In these difficult times, we extend our deepest condolences to the families and the bereaved.”
Aiding the relatives of the deceased couple, Austrian embassy staff in Athens have been offering their support. On the other hand, the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis grimly commented on the state of affairs in his country, calling it “a war in a time of peace”. He stated, “Over a two-week period, we experienced the worst wildfire and the worst floods in our history.”
Promising increased funds for those affected, Mr Mitsotakis further announced that the army would receive a boost to enhance their response to natural disasters. This increase in capacity would be financed by hiking tourist taxes.
Storm Daniel has left more than just a trail of destruction in Greece. The deadly storm also affected Turkey and Bulgaria last week, leading to the death of over a dozen individuals. An estimated 15 people lost their lives to the resulting floods, leaving thousands homeless and dumped in temporary shelters or with relatives. Waterborne diseases loom as a tangible threat over 30 inaccessible villages.
Some Greek regions received up to a whopping 800mm (31.5in) of rain, a volume surpassing the annual average. Traffic restrictions were imposed in Pelion mountain region, Volos city, and Skiathos island due to the calamity.
The aftermath of the storm saw the city of Volos witness flood-hit, mud-covered cars and other vehicles stranded in the water by 7th September. The Karditsa plain in central Greece resembled a lake, with neighboring villages sinking under water, rendering the situation tragic according to the mayor of Palamas, Giorgos Sakellariou.
Tragic accounts from the incident reveal that the Austrian couple chose to take shelter in their holiday bungalow as the deluge engulfed central Greece. Mr Samaras recounted that he along with other guests had opted for higher ground and urged the couple to follow suit. He mentioned, “The situation was very bad. It’s very difficult to decide what to do in a moment like that.”
On the back of this incident, climate scientists have cautioned that intense storms may become increasingly commonplace due to elevated evaporation levels during the summer, a consequence of global warming. It’s worth noting that Greece has been combating lethal wildfires throughout the summer with last month’s being the worst, claiming a minimum of 20 lives.