- A freak hailstorm hit a popular tourist destination in Greece on Wednesday night, killing at least seven people and injuring over 100 others.
- Gale force winds and hail hit Halkidiki, a summer holiday spot located in northern Greece near Thessaloniki, ripping out trees and overturning cars.
- 102 people were injured, an official told the New York Times, while six out of the seven people that had died were foreign nationals.
- According to tourists, the freak storm only lasted a few minutes but “literally came out of nowhere.”
A freak hailstorm hit a popular tourist destination in Greece on Wednesday night, killing at least seven people and injuring over 100 others.
Gale force winds and hail hit Halkidiki, a summer holiday spot located in northern Greece near Thessaloniki, ripping out trees and overturning cars. Officials declared a state of emergency in the region on Thursday.
According to Accuweather, the storm produced winds with a gust of 78 kilometers per hour (48 miles per hour) at around 10.00 p.m. local time on Wednesday. Before the storm, temperatures in the region reached above 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Farenheit).
Kostas Pahinis, fire brigade commander for Central Macedonia, told The New York Times on Thursday that the intensity of the storm was unexpected and caused a small tornado to develop.
102 people were injured, he told the Times, while six out of the seven people that had died were foreign nationals.
“It literally came out of nowhere,” an English tourist told the BBC on Thursday. “The lights cut out on the beach that we were in – it was chaos.”
The storm marks the first major national crisis under Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ conservative government that was sworn in earlier this week.
Scroll below for photos of the destruction caused by the storm.
Seven people, including six tourists were killed in the storm.
A Czech couple died after their camping trailer was blown away in the wind, according to the New York Times.
Fire officials said a Romanian mother and her 8-year-old son were killed on the beach after the roof of a nearby restaurant collapsed, the Times said, and a Russian father and his two-year-old son died after a tree collapsed nearby.
A fisherman who had been reported missing was also found dead on Thursday, according to Associated Press.
The Greece Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted its condolences on Thursday and said it was working with other foreign embassies of those affected.
Trees were split and cars were damaged.
Zanis Prodromos, a professor of meteorology and climatology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, told the New York Times that the storms had been “an extreme phenomenon.”
He told the Times that the intense weather was brought on by a “mesoscale convective system,” a collection of thunderstorms that operated in high wind speeds.
Charalambos Steriadis, head of civil protection in northern Greece, told state TV that the storm was “unprecedented,” the Guardian reported.
Tourists said the storm “literally came out of nowhere.”
Many of the tourists injured in the storm were still receiving treatment at nearby hospitals on Thursday.
One woman reportedly told hospital staff that she was swooped up by strong winds and thrust into a garbage bin, the Guardian said.
“It was a miracle that there weren’t more deaths,” a Greek tourist vacationing in the area told the Guardian.
A vacationer told the New York Times that the strong rains and heavy winds only lasted 15 minutes.
“To us it felt like eternity,” she said. “We felt like we were going to die.”
Local businesses were impacted.
Videos and images posted on social media show roofs of restaurants and homes collapsed, cars overturned and beach umbrellas littered across the sand.
Dozens of rescue workers have been dispatched to assist in restoration efforts.
Efforts to restore power and clean up the region continued on Friday, according to local media.
Interior Minister Panagiotis Theodorikakos said Wednesday that 500,000 euros ($563,000) in emergency aid would be given to the local municipalities to rebuild.