Bulldozers wade through 'biblical' floodwaters in Greece, rescuing hundreds from catastrophic conditions

Storm Daniel has caused landslides, destroyed roads and power poles, and washed away vehicles in Volos and Pelion since Monday. Forecasters say some parts of Greece, already drenched with at least a year's worth of rain, saw an additional two feet of rain Wednesday.

PALAMAS, Greece – Bulldozers were utilized to rescue dozens of residents from heavily flooded areas in central Greece Thursday as the deadly severe weather system dubbed Storm Daniel continues to dump historic amounts of rain on the disaster-ravaged region.

As floodwaters reached several feet deep, stranded residents sought refuge on their rooftops, awaiting military rescue operations. 

According to local reports, the "biblical proportions" of rainfall from Storm Daniel has so far claimed 14 lives across Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria. Some parts of Greece recorded nearly 30 inches of rain in a day Tuesday, smashing a national daily rainfall record. The relentless rain kept falling Wednesday and Thursday, adding another 10 inches or more in spots.

Greece's Minister for Climate Crisis and Civil Protection, Vassilis Kikilias, said that over 880 people have been rescued, while six remain missing as of Thursday.

"I know the word ‘unprecedented’ has been used many times and maybe not to impress. But here not even this word conveys the severity of the phenomenon," he told reporters during an advisory update from government officials. "Here the phrase ‘the skies opened,' unfortunately, finds its literal application."


Since Monday, the storm has triggered landslides, destroyed roads and power poles and washed away numerous vehicles in the port city of Volos and the nearby Pelion region, Reuters reports.

A state of emergency has been declared in municipalities like Metamorfosi, Palama and Karditsa due to Storm Daniel's destructive impact. The devastation follows a two-week deadly wildfire that was recently extinguished to the north.

"Citizens are trapped in their homes, we will have drownings," Palamas Mayor Giorgos Sakellariou told reporters Thursday. "Since yesterday, I have requested a helicopter. Thirty-five people are trapped in a village. These people will drown."

On Instagram, @__.vasiliki.__ shared some eye-opening videos seen below of homes partially submerged and cars almost completely engulfed by floodwater in Palamas.

Forecasters say some parts of Greece, already drenched with at least a year's worth of rain, saw an additional two feet of rain on Wednesday because of Daniel. Some areas reportedly experienced the worst rain event on record, with over 2 feet of rain falling in just a few hours.

"Today, the municipality of Palama died, the municipality of Palama is helpless," Sakellariou told reporters. "The height of the water reaches at least 1.5 meters (4.9 feet). Citizens are trapped in their homes, we will have suffocation. I have made calls everywhere, unfortunately, no one comes."

Here's a current look at satellite and radar for Greece.
(FOX Weather)


According to a fire brigade official, emergency crews, along with the army and coastguard, used lifeboats to reach villages affected by a storm in Karditsa where water levels reached 6.5 feet deep, as reported by Reuters.

"Operations are being carried out very carefully as flood debris obstructed the boats, while, in other cases, the power of the water does not allow us to approach," fire brigade spokesperson Vasilios Vathrakogiannis told reporters.

Local authorities have requested assistance from the military, a disaster response unit from the Hellenic Fire Corps, and helicopters for citizen rescue.

"We were told boats would come. They put a person in them and pull him by hand. Where do they go with so much water?" Sakellariou questioned.

Heavy rains also caused flash floods in northwest Turkey, killing 7, and 3 more died along Bulgaria's Black Sea coast, according to state news agency Anadolu and other media outlets.

Rain slowly subsiding in Greece

Storm Daniel will gradually retreat Thursday, according to the latest forecasts from the National Observatory of Athens' Meteo weather service. Rain and local storms are expected in most of mainland Greece, the Ionian Islands, and the northern Aegean Sea. However, they will gradually weaken and become significantly limited by evening.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has postponed his annual economic speech scheduled for this weekend to visit areas affected by recent flooding, according to Reuters. 

"Our country is facing for the third day a phenomenon unlike any other we have seen in the past," government spokesperson Pavlos Marinakis said during a news conference Thursday.

Information received from Greek media and government officials were translated via Google Translate.