At least five people have been killed in torrential rainstorms and flooding in Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria, including two people who were washed away when floodwaters swept through a camping ground in Turkey’s northwestern province.
Turkish Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said on Tuesday that four other people were still missing after the flash flood swept over the vacation site in Kirklareli province, near the borders with Bulgaria and Greece, where some 12 holidaymakers were staying at the time.
Search teams had located two bodies and six people were rescued, the minister said on social media.
“The search and rescue efforts for the missing 4 persons continue uninterrupted,” Yerlikaya said on the platform X previously known as Twitter, with accompanying photos of a heavily flooded forested area.
In Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, heavy rain flooded streets and homes in at least two neighbourhoods, shutting down some subway stations and trapping people in a library, the Turkish daily newspaper Cumhuriyet reported.
Istanbul’s Governor Davut Gul said on social media that authorities would provide accommodation in public facilities for those affected by flooding.
Turkey’s AFAD disaster management agency predicted further rainstorms for the west and southwest of the country and warned of the dangers from flash floods, lightning strikes and high winds.
In Greece, police banned traffic in the town of Volos, the nearby mountain region of Pelion and the resort island of Skiathos as record rainfall caused at least one death, sent thigh-high floodwaters through streets and swept vehicles away.
The Greek fire service said one man was killed near Volos when a wall buckled and fell on him. Five people were reported missing, possibly swept away in the flooding.
Streams overflowed their banks and swept cars away while rockfalls blocked roads and many areas suffered electricity cuts.
Greece’s weather service said a Pelion region village received 75.4cm (nearly 30 inches) of rain late on Tuesday, by far the highest level recorded since at least 2006. It noted that the average annual rainfall in the Athens region is about 40cm (15.75 inches).
On Skiathos, “planes cannot approach the airport” because of the flooding, Savvas Karagiannis, a spokesman for Fraport, the German company that manages Greece’s regional airports, told the French news agency AFP on Tuesday.
“The weather conditions are extreme and there are currently many delays in airport connections”, he said.
Greece’s minister of climate crisis and civil protection, Vassilis Kikilias, said the heavy rain was expected to ease up after midday on Wednesday. He advised people in affected areas to stay indoors.
“This is an extreme phenomenon”, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said during a meeting on Tuesday with Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou.
The rain storms and flooding come on the heels of devastating wildfires that hit Greece over the past few weeks and left more than 20 people dead.
Classified by experts as a “megafire”, a huge blaze raging over the last two week in the Dadia National Park, in the northern Evros region, destroyed more than 81,000 hectares (200,155 acres) of forest.
In Bulgaria, Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov said on Tuesday that two people had died and three others were missing after a storm caused floods on the country’s southern Black Sea coast.
“Those who have died are one man and one woman,” Denkov told journalists from the flood-hit coastal town of Tsarevo.
Several hundred holidaymakers vacationing along the coast have been evacuated to safer locations.
Authorities have declared a state of emergency in Tsarevo and urged people to move upstairs as the ground floors of some hotels were inundated.
Flooding – rare in the Black Sea coast area – is becoming increasingly common in Bulgaria due to climate change and the poor maintenance of infrastructure.