Storm eases in Greece but flood risk remains high amid rising river levels


Bad weather eased in central Greece on Friday leaving widespread flooding and infrastructure damage across the farming region that has been battered by two powerful storms in less than a month.

Divers located the body of missing pilot, a day after a helicopter flying in the bad weather crashed into the sea.

In the storm-hit city of Volos, municipal workers were handing out bottled water as power and water outages remained in some districts for a third day, while rescue crews used excavators to clear debris-strewn roads blocking access to remote areas.

The two storms, Daniel and Elias, struck central Greece and the island of Evia over three weeks in September, the first leaving 16 people dead, killing several hundred thousand farm animals and damaging highways, secondary roads and the rail network.

In Volos Friday, city resident Georgia Sirtarioti, 76, stood in the doorway of her damaged home, close to tears, as her son Apostolis swept mud off the floor of their family home for a second time. "It would have been better if the (storm) had killed me, and got this over with," Sirtarioti said.

Despite the improving weather Friday, the risk of additional flooding remains high in several central cities and towns as river banks are vulnerable to high water levels, authorities said.

The government said more than 2 billion euros ($2.1 billion) in damage had been caused before the latest storm hit. It has promised residents emergency aid while seeking financial assistance from the European Union.

The conservative government says dealing with the effects of climate change — intensifying wildfires in the summer followed by floods in the fall and winter — has become a national priority.

But environmental groups say the government has no plans to scale back offshore natural gas exploration and the further development of gas infrastructure. The environmental groups Greenpeace and the World Wide Fund for Nature sent a legal notice to the Greek energy ministry on Monday seeking the cancellation of a planned liquefied natural gas plant in a remote northeast region that was recently devastated by wildfires.