The death toll from flash floods that have devastated areas around the Greek capital Athens has hit 13, according to the region’s fire department.
Yianna Krikouki, mayor of Mandra, one of the most affected areas north-west of Athens, said residents “were trapped in their homes, the water is one meter (3 feet) high inside some houses, and (they) have no electricity and water.”
Speaking on Greek radio, he said that there was “nothing standing in the entire area of Mandra” and the town is “now mourning its lost fellow citizens.”
A state of emergency has been declared in the West Attica region, where Mandra is located. Parts of the national highway system have been destroyed and many roads remain shut.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called an emergency meeting with relevant ministers, the head of the fire department and the Greater Athens prefect.
As many as 86 people have been rescued from flood waters, with the injured transported to hospital.
The fire department said it has received at least 600 calls for assistance and operations continue, according to its press office.
An Athens prosecutor has ordered an urgent preliminary investigation into the causes of the destruction. The floods were triggered by heavy rains.
European Commission President Claude Juncker expressed his condolences in a statement.
“I am saddened to learn about the many people who have lost their lives and loved ones during the deadly floods affecting central Greece. On behalf of the whole European Commission, I would like to express our full solidarity with the Greek people and authorities at this difficult time,” it said.
“A tragedy in any of our Member States is a tragedy for all of Europe. We stand ready to support Greece in any way we can. Our EU emergency assistance tools are at the full disposal of the authorities.”
The European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides said that his agency was in contact with the Greek authorities on Wednesday.
“Europe stands by Greece,” he tweeted.
“Our thoughts are with our fellow citizens who remain trapped and in the efforts to rescue them.”