Violent storms have pounded parts of Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey with extreme amounts of rain, causing floods that killed at least 12 people, ravaged roads and prompted evacuations.
In Greece, where record rainfall has swamped the country’s central region this week, the death toll stood at two, after the authorities on Wednesday recovered the body of a woman in the coastal village of Paltsi. Thousands of households were cut off from power and running water.
In Turkey, seven people were killed by flooding in the northwest late on Tuesday, according to the interior minister. And Bulgarian officials said on Wednesday that three people had died in floodwaters on that country’s Black Sea coast.
Greece’s fire service said Wednesday that it had received more than 2,000 calls for help in 24 hours. Among the hardest hit areas was the city of Volos, where video showed rivers of water in the streets, uprooted trees and cars washed up on beaches.
The damage to roads and bridges was so great that Volos had effectively been “cut in half,” its mayor, Achilleas Beos, told Greek television, adding that the city was entirely without power and that most areas lacked running water. While several generators had been set up, the floodwaters had hindered efforts to repair the network, he said.
The rising waters stranded residents and commuters like Stavroula Kiriakou, who was trapped for four hours at the Volos railway station on Tuesday after the flooding halted trains. “We were scared to cross the road — the floodwaters were gushing down the street, so we climbed onto benches outside the station and waited there,” she said in a telephone interview. Eventually, she said, she managed to leave by linking arms with other passengers and wading across the road in knee-high water.
Heavy rain in other parts of Greece prompted the evacuation of several villages and a traffic ban in cities like Trikala.
In Turkey, hundreds of emergency and rescue workers were still wrangling with the aftermath of the floodwaters on Wednesday. Flooding damaged more than 1,700 residences and stores in Istanbul, and more than 30 people were injured, according to Turkish authorities. It also trapped a group of people in the cafeteria of a public library, according to footage circulating online.
Among the dead were two people killed in Istanbul, including a citizen of Guinea who was trapped in a basement apartment. Five others were killed in flooding at a bungalow camping site in Kirklareli, in northwestern Turkey, the interior minister, Ali Yerlikaya, said on Wednesday. A rescue team was still searching for one person missing in the region.
In Bulgaria, the authorities declared a state of emergency in Tsarevo, the worst-affected area on the Black Sea, and evacuated hundreds of people from campsites that had been flooded. A long line of cars jammed the roads out of Tsarevo on Wednesday as tourists and residents tried to leave.
Overflowing rivers destroyed roads and bridges in the region, and video captured buildings being ravaged and cars being swept out to sea. Some communities on the coast still lacked electricity on Wednesday.
“The hopeful news today is that the rain stopped, and the situation is slowly starting to normalize,” Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov said to reporters on Wednesday.
The amount of rainfall that the southern coast of the country received in a 24-hour period from the storm front, called Daniel, was at least three times the amount of rain it would normally receive in a month, Bulgarian officials said.
The torrential rains in some places came after a summer of parched conditions, and meteorologists have called the extreme rainfall highly unusual. While individual weather events are difficult to link to climate change, the authorities have pointed to it as the reason for a dizzying array of extreme weather.
Greece’s weather authority has said that the heavy rain and storms would continue until Thursday. With the ground already saturated, more rain could compound the flooding. The country had already battled a wildfire crisis this summer that ravaged areas of the country and led to mass evacuations.
Some areas had received more than 17 inches of rain in the previous 48 hours, the weather authority said. The average rainfall for a full year in the Greek capital, Athens, is around 16 inches.
“We’re accustomed to seeing more extreme weather due to climate change,” said Konstantinos Lagouvardos, research director at the National Observatory of Athens. “But this is something else — an extreme, extreme weather event,” he said, adding: “We’ve never seen anything like it.”
Boryana Dzhambazova contributed reporting from Sofia, Bulgaria, and Safak Timur from Istanbul.