A wave of unseasonable weather ravaged Greece on Saturday, June 17, 2023, flooding streets and homes, felling trees, and sweeping away vehicles in Thessaloniki, ultimately claiming two lives. The same weather system affected Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Greece was hit by an onslaught of stormy weather on Saturday, June 17, resulting in flooded streets and houses, fallen trees, and cars being swept away in Thessaloniki. This latest weather event is part of a series of unseasonable conditions that have plagued the country this summer.
In a tragic turn of events, a Romanian tourist was claimed by the sea on Lefkada island, and a canyoning instructor was found dead in a gorge on Mount Olympus, marking a deadly day amidst the extreme weather.
Adverse rainfall has been affecting areas of Thessaloniki as far as Moudania in Chalkidiki since the early morning hours, leading to power cuts. The areas of Polichni, Toumba, and Diavata were also heavily affected. The Hellenic Fire Service reported receiving over 300 emergency calls from regions in Northern Greece by 08:00 LT, following the onset of the extreme rainfall. At least 25 water pumping operations had been conducted by then, and three people had been taken to safety.
As the day progressed, emergency calls climbed to a total of 520. Several citizens found themselves stranded in their vehicles. Amid the turmoil, the Fire Service managed to safely transport forty kidney patients to and from a hemodialysis center situated on a flooded street.
Residents and local officials took to social media and Greek TV to express their frustration about delayed flood protection works, as local municipality services were called to remove debris from the streets.
In the face of widespread devastation, the Mayor of Kastoria, Giannis Korentzidis, has requested that a state of emergency be declared in his municipality, which has suffered substantial damage. In addition to causing widespread destruction in the city of Kastoria, the floods have also severely affected agricultural crops, with a risk of losing this year’s production. The local community of Kleisoura has also suffered from landslides.
The same weather system affected Serbia where 1 300 rescuers and 22 boats were deployed to evacuate people.
As of Friday morning, June 16, 55 people have been evacuated in the country, which introduced emergency measures in 42 cities and districts, Deputy Minister of Interior Luka Causic said.
Homes and workplaces were flooded after several rivers overflowed, causing road closures and congested traffic, according to Causic.
Rivers were also overflowing in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. The city of Tuzla declared an emergency in its entire region and evacuated homes from nearby towns and villages.
The country has been grappling with weeks of rainfall resulting in floods that caused huge losses to farmers.
President of the Association of Farmers of the Federation of BiH (FBiH), Nedzad Bico, says that the situation on the ground is catastrophic. Although these are not official figures, current damage estimates are approximately 50 to 60% across all crops.
“The harvest needs to start, and the machines cannot go into the parcels, diseases have attacked fruit, vegetables, grain, and everything else. To make matters worse, the sowing is not even finished. About 60-70 percent of the sowing has been done, the rest will remain uncultivated.”
1 Stormy weather leaves two dead, floods streets in Greece – Greek Reporter – June 17, 2023
2 Flooding in Serbia and Bosnia; torrential rains trigger evacuations – June 16, 2023
3 Emergency measures declared in parts of Serbia after heavy rainfall triggers flooding – Anadolu Agency – June 16, 2023
4 Catastrophic Situation: Damage is about 60 percent on all Crops – Sarajevo Times – June 17, 2023
Featured image credit: EUMETSAT/Meteosat-9, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers. Acquired at 07:45 UTC on June 17, 2023
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