Three people have died after a rare storm known as a “medicane” battered parts of Greece, flooding streets and homes and causing electricity outages.
The Ionian Sea islands of Zakynthos, Kefalonia and Ithaca were all badly hit by Cyclone Ianos on Friday, as winds reaching 100 kilometres per hour (62 miles per hour) damaged buildings, uprooted trees, sank sailboats and left thousands along Greece’s western coast without power.
The medicane – a combination of Mediterranean and hurricane – then swept through central Greece, hitting mainly areas around the cities of Karditsa and Farsala, before it moved south to the island of Crete.
The body of a man was found under the collapsed roof of his house in a village near Karditsa on Sunday, the Athens News Agency said. On Saturday, a 63-year-old man was found dead in the same area and the body of an elderly woman was found in nearby Farsala, according to fire brigade officials.
Authorities were still searching for a woman reported missing in Karditsa.
The heavy rainfall on Saturday turned Karditsa, in one of Greece’s biggest plains, into a lake. Video footage showed flooded highways, collapsed bridges and agricultural land turned into mud lakes with farmers carrying their sheep to rescue.
A river flooded its banks and damaged roads and a medical centre in the town of Mouzaki.
Experts estimate that about 5,000 houses were flooded in the area of Karditsa. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who is expected to visit the region in the coming days, said the government will provide economic relief to the affected areas.
By Saturday night, Ianos had reached Crete, where heavy rainfall flooded streets and shops.
The fire brigade said it had received more than 2,450 calls in the affected regions for assistance to rescue
Medicanes have similar features to hurricanes and typhoons. They can form over cooler waters and usually move from west to east, whereas hurricanes move from east to west.
Warmer sea surface temperatures in the Mediterranean Sea can allow the storms to take on more tropical appearances and characteristics, increasing the wind speeds and making the storms more intense.
Storm Ianos could end up being one of the strongest medicanes on record.