Greece: Search continues for 6 still missing in flash floods

November 17, 2017
Storm approaches Lycabettus hill in central Athens, Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. Greece's fire department says two more people have been reported missing from deadly flash flooding west of Athens that has killed at least 16 people. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Hopes were diminishing as darkness fell Friday for six people reported missing in deadly flash floods that struck near Athens, killing 16.

The fire department said search and rescue efforts continued to locate the six, all reported missing in the Mandra district on the western outskirts of the Greek capital, which was the area hardest hit.

They included two hunters, three motorists and one person who was reported missing from outside a canteen truck stop.

Wednesday’s flash floods, which came after an overnight storm, turned roads into raging torrents of mud that flung cars against buildings, inundated homes and businesses and submerged part of a major highway.

Hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed, and residents struggled with brooms and hoses to clear their properties of tons of mud, water and debris. Cranes were called in to remove smashed cars from atop walls and porches.

The flooding is one of the worst disasters to have hit the Athens area in decades. Several of those who died drowned trapped in flooded homes and stores, while others were motorists carried away by the floodwater. Two were men whose bodies were recovered by the coast guard after having been swept out to sea.

More bad weather, with heavy rainfall and storms, lashed the capital Friday, flooding a central road in the Keratsini area west of Athens, cutting off traffic.

The fire department said it had received 910 calls for help in the western areas of the capital since Wednesday morning to pump water from flooded buildings and transport people to safety. It said its crews rescued 96 people trapped in vehicles and homes.

The repeated storms led to another 70 calls for help to the fire department in other areas of the Greek capital and the nearby island of Aegina on Friday, and hundreds more from towns in northern Greece.

The Athens municipality said it was providing 2.5 tons of food and hygiene items, as well as clothing, bedding and medicine to those affected. Parliament announced it was giving 1 million euros to help residents in the flooded areas, while the Merchant Marine Ministry said it had arranged for a cruise ship docked in the nearby port of Piraeus to provide housing for those left homeless.

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