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In a harsh turn of events, central Greece again finds itself at the mercy of Mother Nature’s fury as storm Elias unleashes torrential rains, flooding streets, homes, and businesses across the region. Particularly hard-hit is the port city of Volos and the island of Evia. This catastrophe comes merely three weeks after the devastating Storm Daniel wreaked havoc, claiming the lives of 17 people in the broader region.
The crisis deepened when a private helicopter tragically crashed into the sea in northern Evia, east of the Greek capital, Athens. A search and rescue operation is underway, although the exact cause of the accident remains uncertain. The ill-fated private helicopter, an A-109 type, was en route to Volos city with at least two people on board, as confirmed by a civil aviation official.
Since storm Elias unleashed its fury on Wednesday afternoon, more than 250 people have been evacuated from the affected areas. The fire brigade, meanwhile, has been inundated with 1,200 calls for assistance as beleaguered residents grapple with the crisis.
Volos, in particular, bore the brunt of the storm’s wrath, with relentless rain causing water levels in the city and its suburbs to surge rapidly within just a few hours. The situation worsened as a nearby stream overflowed, exacerbating the already dire flooding.
Mayor Achilleas Beos of Volos reported that by Wednesday night, power outages resulting from the storm and flooding had left 80% of the city in darkness. In response to the crisis, authorities took the precautionary measure of prohibiting all vehicles from venturing onto the roads. Expressing his frustration and concern, Mayor Beos implored residents to remain safe, stating, “People can’t stand this anymore. I cannot understand nature’s rage. Protect yourselves,” emphasizing the importance of staying home in these perilous conditions.
As the sun rose on Thursday, storm Elias shifted its focus towards the island of Evia, where some villages in northern Evia were issued evacuation orders, according to state ERT TV. It is worth noting that Storm Elias is the second major storm to strike the region quickly following the catastrophic Storm Daniel. The latter, described as the most intense storm to hit Greece since records began in 1930, unleashed its fury for three consecutive days earlier in September.
Many residents of Volos expressed frustration, claiming that authorities were ill-prepared for another storm as they were still grappling with the aftermath of Storm Daniel. “This was foretold,” lamented Yannis Gavanoudis, a 70-year-old pensioner, adding, “They (authorities) didn’t do their job properly.”
Storm Daniel left central Greece transformed into an inland sea, with homes submerged, road infrastructure severely damaged, and farms near Volos, Karditsa, and Larissa in ruins. The disaster resulted in the drowning of tens of thousands of animals and the loss of entire crops, leaving residents of the affected areas struggling to recover from the catastrophic impact.
The trail of destruction continued as Storm Daniel progressed across the Mediterranean, ultimately reaching Libya, where it contributed to a catastrophic flood in the city of Derna, claiming the lives of over 2,500 people—an event of immense tragedy and sorrow.