ATHENS, Greece (AP) — A man drowned and there are reports of missing people as storms batter Crete, causing rivers to overflow and flooding locations across Greece’s biggest island on Saturday.
The worst damage seems to have been done in the seaside town of Agia Pelagia, about 25 kilometers (16 miles) northwest of Iraklio, Crete’s largest city. This is where firefighters found the 50-year-old man, whose car had been swept up by raging waters.
The state-run Athens News Agency said that a woman who was reportedly in the same vehicle is missing. Divers from the coast guard and the fire department’s Special Disaster Unit are searching for her.
Gale force winds are also blowing across most of the island.
Footage showed at least 10 cars floating in the turbulent sea off Agia Pelagia’s narrow beach and other debris, including a refrigerator. Firefighters rescued a woman trapped inside her car before it was swept into the sea. Authorities said they were investigating more reports of missing people and fear others may have been trapped in their cars.
Inhabitants in the area of Lasithi, on the east side of the island, have been warned by SMS text messages not to leave their homes. In the city of Chania, on the western end of the island, houses have been flooded, according to regional officials.
In the city of Sitia, on the eastern end, about 265 kilometers (165 miles) from Chania, four people were trapped in two vehicles and nine others — eight tourists and a guard — were trapped inside the town’s archaeological museum, local police said.
In Iraklio itself, several roads are flooded and the city’s international airport has closed, because its runways are underwater.
“No one can tell when flights will resume,” airport manager Giorgos Pliakas told a local news site.