Unprecedented Floods Devastate Central Greece, Death Toll Rises Amid Fears of More Losses

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An anomalous weather pattern has wreaked unprecedented havoc in central Greece, where over a year’s worth of rainfall descended in a single day, unleashing a deluge and trapping hundreds of people among flooded settlements. The concerning death toll has already reached double figures, inciting Greece’s Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, to describe the situation as “a very unequal battle” with nature itself.

Swollen rivers have breached their confines, resulting in a multitude of homes and bridges being washed away in the relentless, heavy downpour. Desperate pleas for vital supplies such as food and water have erupted from besieged residents in villages encircling Palamas and Karditsa.

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After a period of scorching heat, wildfires, the plains of Thessaly were hit by an unexpected and brutal three-day storm. The sudden accumulation of up to 800mm (31.5in) of rainfall in only 24 hours inundated the flatter regions of central Greece.

The city now in the path of this natural disaster is Larissa, with an alarming rise in the water level of the River Pineios causing significant alarm for its 150,000 occupants. Larissa is highly regarded as one of Greece’s major cities and serves as the country’s agricultural nucleus. With nearly a quarter of its year’s harvest obliterated, the road to fertility for these lands will be a long and uphill battle.

Resentment amongst the local populace is escalating, with many accusing Greek officials of wielding climate change as a scapegoat for their inadequate construction projects. One bridge, reconstructed after collapsing due to a cyclone merely three years earlier, has been eradicated once again. This has become a symbolic representation of failed governance in the eyes of many Greeks.

Larissa’s familiar, steep cityscape has been transformed beyond recognition, with lower-lying dwellings completely flooded, while those higher up temerously remain intact. The havoc wreaked on the city’s infrastructure is monumental, with the storm’s fury rendering many roads impassable and bridges destroyed. The remnants of recent devastating wildfires only adds to the grim landscape.

Beyond the anonymous statistics, the personal tragedies are heartbreaking. An area resident named Xenia spoke emotionally about losing the home she had inhabited for over three decades.

“I never believed that this could happen,” she lamented, adding that her residence is now submerged in around a meter and a half of water. Forced to seek refuge with a colleague and have her children stay with friends, she must now face the daunting prospect of finding a new, affordable home on a meager salary.

The current death toll has reached 10, with at least four others reported missing, warns Greece’s civil protection minister, Vassilis Kikilias. There is grave concern that these numbers may surge once rescuers are able to access more inundated areas.

Greece’s Prime Minister, while touring the worst affected regions, described the calamity as a “natural phenomenon the likes of which we have never seen before.” Yet he also provided a glimmer of hope, promising prompt compensation for those whose properties had sustained damage or destruction.

Despite the cessation of rainfall, floodwaters reportedly exceed 2m (6.5ft) in depth in certain areas. One picture taken by a drone exposes swathes of submerged buildings.

Water collection has become a desperate exercise in the coastal city of Volos, devoid of clean drinking water for four days. The Greek fire brigade has so far rescued over 1,800 individuals and continues its search for several missing people.

This flooding catastrophe follows a record-threatening summer heatwave and extensive wildfires in northern Greece. Scientists point to the increased likelihood and intensity of such drastic weather events as the ominous fingerprint of climate change.