Greece: Fierce storm causes blackouts, road havoc

February 24, 2013 | By More

ATHENS, Greece—Torrential rainfall in Greece’s capital Friday crippled traffic, inundated
basements and streets, and was blamed for the death of woman whose car was trapped in
floodwater, authorities said.

The overnight storm swept across greater Athens, flooding hundreds of homes, causing
blackouts in parts of the city and forcing authorities to close major roads and a central subway
station in Athens.

“We have many, many problems — it’s hard to know where to begin describing it,” Deputy Fire
Chief Vassilis Papageorgiou said. “We have more than 60 crews working to get people out of
stranded vehicles.”

Police closed underpasses and highways in low-lying parts of the city after they were
submerged, while parked cars were swept away by racing waters. A 23-year-old woman who
had been trapped in her car on a flooded suburban road died shortly after being pulled free
by other motorists and taken to a hospital, police said. Doctors said a preliminary examination
suggested she had died of heart failure.

The fire department said it received about 1,500 calls to pump out water in greater Athens.
During five hours of heavy rainfall, more than 100 millimeters (3.9 inches) fell in some parts of
the city — more than the monthly average of 50 millimeters (1.9 inches).

An abandoned house collapsed in the city center, but no injuries were reported, while a factory
north of Athens was seriously damaged when floodwater eroded the ground beneath the
structure. The capital’s tram system was also shut down for more than an hour, while urban rail
schedules were disrupted after a tree fell onto the tracks. The rain also caused power cuts in
parts of the city.

In Parliament, a worker clearing water from the roof of the main assembly hall during a session
tripped and went through a glass skylight, but was pulled to safety by a policeman. The accident
occurred as Cabinet members were preparing to answer questions.

“The worker could have landed on our heads,” Sports Minister Yiannis Ioannidis said.

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