Mediterranean cyclone swirls across Greece, brings flash floods

An excavator collects debris from the seaside following a cyclone in Kalamata, Greece September 29, 2018. Eurokinissi via REUTERS

ATHENS (Reuters) – Swirling winds and torrential rain brought flash floods to parts of Greece on Saturday as a rare type of storm known as a “Medicane” which can develop in certain conditions over the Mediterranean Sea hit the country.

Ships were held at Greece’s main ports and traffic was disrupted in several areas as roads flooded due to the heavy rain. Gusting winds blew garbage bins off the streets of Athens and led to power cuts and falling trees across the country.

Firefighters received dozens of calls for assistance to remove downed trees and other objects and help evacuate people trapped in cars and flooded homes.

The tropical storm has so far mostly affected areas in the southern Peloponnese peninsula. TV images showed flooded streets turned into rivers in the wider area of Corinth and massive sea waves crashing into the shores of coastal towns in the region.

“The Peloponnese is holding on despite the impact and the side effects of this extreme weather phenomenon,” said regional governor Petros Tatoulis, adding that homes, fields and state infrastructure had suffered damage.

Temperatures plunged unexpectedly by up to 10 degrees celsius this week. Wind speeds topped 100 kilometers (56 miles) per hour in several areas and were forecast to intensify.

The civil protection service has urged municipalities to be on the alert and called on citizens to take precautions.

Authorities were also concerned that the tropical storm could bring mudslides and floods in the wider Athens area, which was recently hit by deadly fires and flash floods.

In August, blazes in the area of Mati killed at least 99 people. Last year, 24 people were killed and scores were left homeless after a rain-swollen torrent inundated two coastal towns west of the capital.

Parts of the national road leading to those areas were blocked by police in advance.

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