ATHENS, Greece — Severe rainstorms wreaked havoc in Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria on Tuesday, resulting in multiple casualties and widespread flooding. One tragic incident involved two holidaymakers who were swept away by a powerful torrent that devastated a campsite in northwestern Turkey.
According to Turkish Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya, four individuals remain missing after the flash flood struck Kirklareli province, near the Bulgarian border. Yerlikaya confirmed that a total of 12 vacationers were present at the site when the calamity occurred. Although search teams have located two bodies so far, the mission to find the remaining four missing persons continues relentlessly.
Television footage captured the heroic efforts of rescuers saving a young girl and an adult from waist-deep waters in various locations. The heavy rains also inflicted damage to infrastructure, leading to the closure of a major road, as reported by HaberTurk television.
Meanwhile, in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, torrential downpours caused significant flooding in two neighborhoods, resulting in at least two fatalities according to the governor’s office. Notably, approximately a dozen individuals were successfully rescued from a library where they had been stranded. Additionally, certain subway stations were forced to shut down in response to the adverse conditions. In light of the situation, Istanbul Gov. Davut Gul urged motorcyclists to remain indoors for their safety.
Greece’s Rainfall Breaks Records
In a remarkable weather event, a village in Greece’s Pilion region received an astonishing 30 inches of rain on Tuesday, marking the highest level recorded since at least 2006. This amount is nearly double the average annual rainfall in the Athens region, which stands at around 15.75 inches.
Climate Crisis and Protection Measures
Vassilis Kikilias, Greece’s Minister of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection, stated that the heavy rainfall is expected to subside after midday on Wednesday. In light of this situation, Kikilias advised residents in the affected areas to stay indoors for their safety.
Continuing Challenges for Greece
This recent storm follows a series of devastating summer wildfires that have plagued Greece over the last few weeks. These intense fires, some of which burned for over two weeks, resulted in extensive damage to forests and farmlands and claimed the lives of more than 20 people.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis attributed both the wildfires and the current storm to the impacts of climate change. While acknowledging that his center-right government’s handling of the wildfires could have been better, Mitsotakis expressed concern about the future, stating that “careless summers” as they were previously known may no longer exist, and that upcoming summers are likely to become increasingly challenging.
Flooding Hits Bulgaria’s Black Sea Coast
Beyond Greece, neighboring Bulgaria also experienced severe weather conditions. Following a storm, floods ravaged the southern coast of the country along the Black Sea, resulting in tragic consequences.
Loss of Life and Infrastructure Damage
Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov reported that two individuals lost their lives, while three others remain missing due to the flooding caused by overflowing rivers. The region also suffered significant infrastructure damage to roads and bridges. Moreover, power blackouts were prevalent, and residents were advised against consuming tap water due to contamination from floodwaters.
Beachside Chaos ensues
The storm brought high winds and torrential rain, leading to massive 6-foot waves crashing onto the tourist resorts’ beaches. Streets and houses became flooded, causing significant disruption to the affected areas.
These recent weather events in both Greece and Bulgaria emphasize the urgent need for improved climate resilience measures to mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events caused by climate change.