Dramatic drone footage shows aftermath of violent storm which ripped through northern Greece killing seven and injuring at least 23 as state of emergency is declared in area
- ‘Unprecedented’ storm battered northern Greece with gale-force winds and hail
- Six tourists including two children died, alongside a local fisherman in his sixties
- Drone shows damaged properties in the nearby village of Vergia after the storm
- British family have described how winds ‘lifted window panes like paper napkins’
Dramatic drone footage has emerged showing the damage caused to homes after a violent storm ripped through one of Greece’s top tourist areas killing seven and injuring at least 23.
Six tourists including two children were killed – two each from the Czech Republic, Russia and Romania – in the northern peninsula of Halkidiki, near Greece’s second city Thessaloniki, in the storm late on Wednesday.
Relatives have since identified the body of a local fisherman in his sixties who had been missing since the storm and was later found in the sea.
Drone footage shows badly damaged properties in the nearby village of Vergia after powerful gales snapped trees and power pylons, tossing vehicles and flinging beach lounge chairs into trees, leaving swathes of debris across the coastline.
A state of emergency has been declared in the area. In a briefing, government spokesman Stelios Petsas on Thursday said the area had been hit by winds of more than 100 kilometres (60 miles) an hour.
Drone shows badly damaged properties in the village of Vergia, northern Greece after powerful gales snapped trees and power pylons, tossing vehicles and flinging beach lounge chairs into trees, leaving swathes of debris across the coastline
A state of emergency has been declared in the area. In a briefing, government spokesman Stelios Petsas on Thursday said the area had been hit by winds of more than 100 kilometres (60 miles) an hour
The roofs of several properties had been torn off during the gales, leaving the insides exposed to the elements. Following the storm, which took place late on Wednesday, locals were working to repair the damage caused in the village
A large number of solar panels installed on a roof came down during the winds. Many properties sustained significant damage during the storm, which last just 20 minutes
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who took office on Sunday following a general elections, cancelled his meetings to address the disaster, his office said.
‘We are making every effort to resolve problems and repair the damage,’ Mitsotakis said in a tweet.
The Halkikidi peninsula is particularly popular among Balkan and Russian travellers.
Overall, some 120 people received attention at local hospitals.
The freak storm lasted only about 20 minutes, according to witnesses, but it was enough to overturn cars, uproot trees and balcony railings and cause mudslides.
Andy Gilchrist, 48, from Bangor in Northern Ireland, has described when the storm hit while he was on holiday in the area.
He was having coffee and dessert with 43-year-old wife Katie and nine-year-old daughter Grace at the five-star Ikos Oceania hotel on Wednesday night when they noticed lightning in the distance.
But within moments Andy said the winds hit gale-force, sending staff and guests scrambling for safety as heavy glass window panes were ‘picked up like napkins’.
Six tourists including two children aged two and eight were killed by the storm, while 23 were injured, according to police.
Speaking to Mail Online, Andy said: ‘I’ve never seen anything like it, not even close.
Six tourists have been killed after an ‘unprecedented’ storm hit the Halkidiki region of northern Greece on Wednesday night (pictured, lighting strikes a block of flats)
Trees were brought down, vehicles flipped over and buildings damaged when gale-force winds, lashing rain and hail struck suddenly
A Romanian woman and her eight-year-old child died at this taverna after the roof collapsed
A Russian man and his son, thought to be two years old, were killed when they were struck by a falling tree (pictured, a car crushed by a tree, it is not clear if this is where the pair died)
Father Andy Gilchrist told of his family’s terror after he was caught in the storm with 43-year-old wife Katie, and nine-year-old daughter Grace, while eating on a restaurant terrace
‘You wouldn’t have stood a chance if you were out in it. If you’d been on the balcony you’d have been 60 miles away by the time it finished.
‘The winds must have been 100mph, at least.’
Andy said that the storm started as really intense lightning flashes on the horizon, but ‘within a click of the fingers’ it had come on full-force.
Video he recorded shows how guests began helping staff clear away bottles and glasses from the tables as they started blowing away and smashing.
Panicked waiters then jumped over tables to try and close two sets of heavy glass shutters, before giving up and retreating behind a second set of glass doors.
Andy said it was at that point that daughter Grace got ‘really, really frightened’ and ran with five other women to hide in the toilets.
He added: ‘There were six of them in one cubicle, my daughter was upset and they were calming her down.
Trees were uprooted, cars overturned and buildings damaged by the vicious storm
An overturned vehicle is seen on a beach at Sozopoli village in Halkidiki region, Greece
Tourists walk past a fallen roof coverd in solar panels after a storm in Nea Plagia
Damaged umbrellas and lounge chairs on a beach after a storm in Nea Plagia
Witnesses said the storm struck suddenly and only lasted for around 20 minutes, which forecasters said was highly unusual – especially at this time of year
‘We were trapped there, basically, because there was no way we were going out in it.
‘The storm lasted for more than half an hour, probably 40 minutes full-on. We were in the restaurant for an hour to an hour and a half before we could leave.’
‘The staff were really frightened too. A lot of them have family nearby and they couldn’t get through to them on the phone.
‘They told me that not only have they not seen anything like it, their parents haven’t seen it before either. It’s unprecedented.’
A state of emergency has now been declared in the region as crews attempt to clean up the mess left by the storm – which damaged buildings, uprooted trees, and flipped vehicles over.
Two elderly Czech tourists were killed when strong winds and water swept away their travel trailer, police said.
Elsewhere in the region, a 54-year-old woman and an 8-year-old boy, both Romanian nationals, were killed after a roof collapsed on a restaurant in Nea Plagia.
Motorcycles on Nea Plagia beach after being blown there by the storm on Wednesday
A farmer inspects a damaged greenhouse that strong winds swept away in Sozopolis
A Russian man and his son – believed to be aged two – were killed by a falling tree, while two elderly Czechs died when their caravan blew away (pictured, damage in Nea Plagia village)
A Romanian woman and her eight-year-old child died when a roof collapsed on to the restaurant where they were taking shelter (pictured, a damaged playground in Porto Carras)
Haris Lazaridis, owner of the tavern, said: ‘There was panic, people were howling and running to hide inside.
‘For five minutes it was hellish,’ he said, adding that more than 100 people were sheltering under the roof when it collapsed.
A man and a young boy, both Russians, died after a tree collapsed near their hotel in the seaside town of Potidea, authorities said.
According to port police, a fisherman in his sixties was also missing. There were reports on Thursday that his body had been found, but these were not confirmed.
In an emergency briefing, government spokesman Stelios Petsas on Thursday said the area had been hit by winds of more than 100 kilometres (62 miles) an hour.
Twenty-three people were still receiving treatment in nearby hospitals, including a 72-year-old woman in critical condition, he said.
Most of them are tourists, Petsas said, declining to give nationalities.
Andy said that, fortunately, nobody in his hotel was hurt, and staff have said that all of their families are OK – though some are having problems with flooding.
The father, who works as a banking consultant, said it was his first time to this region of Greece, and the storm hasn’t put him off coming back.
‘But I think with every rain cloud now everyone’s going to be ducking for cover,’ he added.
Such severe weather is unusual in Greece, where summers are typically hot and dry.
Meteorologist Klearxos Marousakis described conditions as ‘extremely unusual’ for this time of year.
‘It is the first time in my 25-year career that I have lived through something like this,’ Athansios Kaltsas, director of the Nea Moudania Medical Centre, where many of the injured were treated for fractures, told Greek television.
While up to 100 people were initially thought to be hurt, that was later revised to 23 by police (pictured, damage in Nea Plagia)
A man walks on a damaged terrace following heavy storms at the village of Nea Plagia, Greece
Witnesses described the storm as ‘abrupt’ and ‘sudden’, saying it lasted around 20 minutes
‘It was so abrupt, and so sudden,’ he said.
Kaltsas said patients taken to the clinic ranged in age from 8 months to over 70. Some suffered head injuries from trees and other falling objects.
Meteorologists forecast it would continue to rain in the area until about 9 a.m. on Thursday.
The freak storm only lasted about 20 minutes, according to witnesses interviewed by state television ERT.
Authorities declared Halkidiki in a state of emergency, and Greece’s newly appointed citizens’ protection minister was due to visit early on Thursday.
At least 140 rescue workers were involved in the operation, emergency chief Vassilis Varthakoyannis said.
The minister for citizen protection, Michalis Chryssohoidis, will visit the site on Thursday morning.
The storms came after temperatures in Greece soared to 37 degrees centigrade (98 degrees Fahrenheit) over the past two days.
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