Greece storm: Six tourists killed as wind and hail batter Halkidiki

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Damage at a playground at a hotel in Porto Carras, Halkidki, Greece July 11, 2019Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Damage at a playground at a hotel in Porto Carras, Halkidki

Six tourists have been killed and at least 30 other people injured in a violent storm that swept across a region of northern Greece.

Gale-force winds, heavy rain and hailstorms lashed Halkidiki, near the city of Thessaloniki, late on Wednesday, officials say.

A Czech couple died when their caravan was blown away, and two Romanians and two Russians were also killed.

A state of emergency was declared and more than 100 rescue workers deployed.

Charalambos Steriadis, head of civil protection in northern Greece, described it as an “unprecedented phenomenon”.

The storm followed a spell of very hot weather in Greece with temperatures soaring to 37C (98F) over the past two days.

Images and video posted on social media show trees toppled, cars overturned and buildings damaged.

“It is the first time in my 25-year career that I have lived through something like this,” said Athansios Kaltsas, director of the Nea Moudania Medical Centre which treated many of the injured.

“It was so abrupt, so sudden,” he said.

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A witness quoted by broadcaster ERT said the freak storm had lasted only for about 20 minutes.

A Romanian woman and her child were killed when the roof of a restaurant collapsed at Nea Plagia, officials say, while a Russian man and his son were killed by a falling tree near their hotel in the seaside resort of Potidea.

Greece’s minister for citizen protection, Michalis Chryssohoidis, is due to visit the region on Thursday.

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