The storm that hit the Greek island of Crete claimed a second casualty. A missing woman was found dead this morning after her car was towed into water. Meanwhile, residents of the heavily damaged resort of Agia Pelagia are trying to clear up the devastation and air traffic has resumed. “Yesterday you couldn’t even see the parked planes from the departure hall,” says Dutch tourist Harold van Vegten.
The regional governor of Crete speaks of “the worst thunderstorm of the past 100 years”. The Greek newspaper, Kathimerini, described it as a “biblical disaster”. Police and firefighters have already received countless calls from affected citizens. Many families are without electricity.
The city of Heraklion, the capital of Crete, was particularly hard hit. The city’s airport was closed for hours on Saturday as the runway was completely submerged. So dozens of holiday flights were diverted, including to the city of Chania in the west of Crete, as well as to the airport of the Greek capital Athens.
Rewatch: Flooding on Crete wreaks havoc
Air traffic stopped
Dutch tourist Harold van Wijten and his wife were ready at the airport yesterday to fly home. “It wasn’t like that at first, it just rained a little bit.” However, this spray soon turned into a storm. “Suddenly you can no longer see anything, from the departure hall you can no longer even see the planes,” Harold says.
Flying is no longer an option. Also, it was not possible to leave the airport due to the harsh weather. We spent hours there, but our situation wasn’t too bad. When we finally managed to leave the airport around 6pm to go to a hotel, people entered the departure hall who had been on a plane all those hours. “The ground crew considered it so dangerous that they were unable to unload the aircraft early,” Harold said. Meanwhile, air traffic resumed. It seems that “but we have a delay”.
On their way from the airport to the city, the couple saw red sludge in the streets. “It was not so bad there, as far as we could see. The images from other villages were more intense. Our taxi driver told us that one of the waves dragged a taxi from his company into the sea.”
Missing woman found dead
Two people were killed in the floods caused by the storm. The body of a missing woman was found this morning. She had run away from a car that was swept away, but the current also caught her. Emergency services have been looking for her since yesterday, but the search was difficult due to the storm and the devastation. Yesterday it was already clear that a 50-year-old man died in Agia Pelagia who got stuck in his car and drowned. The two were reportedly in the car together when the downpour swept them over.
According to the fire service, at least nine cars were towed away by the water. A woman was rescued from a car that ended up at sea. The fire service had to get at least 30 people to safety, including eight tourists and a guard who were trapped in the archaeological museum in the coastal town of Sitia, east of the island. In Chania, on the western side of the island, homes were flooded.
Local media reported extensive damage in northern coastal villages, with streets becoming rivers carrying everything in their path. There is still a risk of landslides, because the roads have become unstable due to mudslides. Residents are asked to stay at home as much as possible. Sunday will be cloudy with some rain, but the weather is much better than yesterday. Rain continued in Rhodes, but it caused much less inconvenience there.
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