- Such a natural disaster is an unprecedented phenomenon in Greece.
- "There were many children there, they cried, they were upset and very, very scared."
- Two Russians died, a 39-year-old tourist and his two-year-old son, when a tree fell on them.
Six tourists died and more than 30 were injured during a small hurricane, which unexpectedly struck late on Wednesday at Halkidiki resorts in northern Greece, near Thessaloniki. Powerful wind gusts, rain, and storm tore the roofs off buildings, overturned cars and caused flooding in hotels. Authorities declared an emergency with more than 100 rescue workers at the disaster’s site.
Greek media reported that two dead Russians – a 39-year-old tourist and his two-year-old son – were resting at a hotel in Neo Potidea town. A gust of wind threw a tree upon them. A couple from the Czech Republic died in their own van, which turned over by the wind. A restaurant’s roof collapse killed a Romanian tourist with a young daughter.
Regional civil defense service boss, Charalambos Steriadis, said that such a natural disaster is an unprecedented phenomenon in Greece. Storm Zorba, was dubbed a “Medicane” because of its location in the Mediterranean and its tropical-storm-like qualities. They occur once or twice a year, usually during September and October, when sea surface temperatures are warm.
The storm broke out after two days of heat, at which the temperature rose to 37 degrees Celsius.
An English tourist from Surrey, Emily Kisht, told reporters that the storm hit her with her family on the beach during a party: “Literally, it appeared from nowhere and tried to get off the beach.” According to Emily, the hotel staff sent her to the bar with children 3 and 5 years old, saying that she needed to take shelter there, but the room in the bar began to flood water.
“There were many children there, they cried, they were upset and very, very scared.”
“Electricity and water supply to hotels has stopped and, as of Thursday morning, has not been restored. The storm lasted about 20 minutes,” an eyewitness told ERT1, the Greek television channel.
“For those 25 years that I have been working, I saw this for the first time,” said Athanasios Kaltsas, a medical center director in Nea Moudania, where most of the wounded were taken. “It happened suddenly, completely unexpectedly.”
Shades of Eleanor
Last year winter storm “Eleanor” passed through almost the whole of northern Europe, hitting France and Germany. Prior to that, Eleanor fell on the UK, leaving tens of thousands of homes without electricity and causing disruptions in transportation. In France, where wind gusts reached 110 km/h, a skier, crushed by a tree, died in the Alps, another nine people suffered. In Switzerland, due to hurricane winds, a train derailed, several passengers received minor injuries. In the Netherlands – one victim, a tree fell on him.
In the north of France, more than 200,000 houses were left without electricity. During the day, the storm moved further to other regions, including Corsica, where the wind speed reached 200 km/h. Weather conditions affected air traffic in the French capital and in the east of the country. Also, in Paris, where wind gusts of up to 100 km/h occurred, the Eiffel Tower closed to visitors. At the time of the hurricane, city parks also closed.
The storm passed throughout Germany, where it was given the name “Burglind.” Gusts of wind there reached 120 km/h and led to interruptions of transport activities. In Switzerland, 14,000 homes were de-energized because of the hurricane, in Austria in some areas the risk of avalanches increased. In the canton of St. Gallen, several skiers were stuck on the slope. In Pilatus peak (2128 m), wind gusts of up to 195 km/h were recorded near the Swiss city of Lucerne.
In Belgium, authorities warned people to be careful when going outside and be wary of flying, torn branches and other items raised by the wind.