Death toll from storm in northern Greece rises to 7


A man rides a bicycle among debris after a storm at Nea Plagia village in Halkidiki region, northern Greece, Thursday, July 11, 2019. A powerful storm hit the northern Halkidiki region late Wednesday. (Giannis Moisiadis/InTime News via AP) (Giannis Moisiadis/InTime News via AP)

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THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — The death toll from a violent storm that struck northern Greece increased to seven Thursday, after a body found at sea off the coast of the stricken area was identified as that of a missing fisherman.

The body of the 62-year-old was located by an air force helicopter 6.8 nautical miles off the coast of the Halkidiki peninsula, and was later identified by relatives, the coast guard said. The fisherman had taken his boat out Wednesday afternoon shortly before the storm and had been missing since.

Wednesday night’s violent storm snapped trees and power pylons, tossed vehicles and flung beach lounge chairs into trees, leaving swathes of debris across the coastline.

A state of emergency was declared in the region, a three-finger peninsula near the northern city of Thessaloniki that is popular with tourists in the summer.

Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said 23 people remained hospitalized Thursday, including a woman in critical condition. Six of the dead were tourists: two each from Russia, the Czech Republic and Romania.

Two of those who died were killed when high winds overturned their recreational vehicle, while an 8-year-old boy and his mother were killed when an outdoor restaurant’s lean-to roof collapsed. Another two were killed by falling trees.

Crews were working to restore power that was knocked out to 80% of the stricken area. The fire department said it had received more than 1,200 calls for assistance throughout northern Greece, including 600 in Halkidiki.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who was elected on Sunday and just formed his government, appointed Public Order Minister Michalis Chrisochoidis to head the response effort, Petsas said, while the army was assisting repair crews.

Powerful storms also struck the neighboring south-eastern region of North Macedonia, ripping up trees, rooves and power pylons, damaging farms and orchards and blocking roads. No injuries were reported.

North Macedonia’s National Crisis Management Center said the area most affected was the southern region of Prespa, near the Greek border.

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