Airlines have outlined plans to bring home British tourists who have been stranded on the storm ravaged Greek island of Skiathos since Monday.
Storm Daniel has triggered landslides, destroyed a bridge, caused the collapse of power poles and carried away dozens of cars in muddy waters across mainland Greece and islands.
Police banned traffic on Skiathos as record rainfall caused thigh-high flooding through streets and swept cars away. At least two people have died and four were reported missing on Wednesday, the fire brigade said.
In an update on Wednesday Jet2 said it has decided to cancel all flights into Skiathos until Wednesday September 13, but it has made plans to rescue stranded holidaymakers.
The airline said it plans to fly a scheduled programme of aircraft to Skiathos “with no customers onboard, so that we can bring customers back to the UK”.
“We believe that this is the right thing to do in terms of allowing the island and its population to quickly return to normal following this week’s events,” Jet2 said in a statement.
“We will be contacting affected customers with regards to their refund and rebooking options.
“We will review this flying programme closely and may put on additional aircraft to fly customers home if required.
“This announcement comes in addition to the cancellations to Skiathos that we have already made this week (six flights operating between Monday 4th and Wednesday 6th September).
“We will fly all customers affected by these cancellations back to the UK too, and we will communicate directly with them to let them know.”
Tui cancelled three flights on Tuesday and three on Wednesday and said it is “closely monitoring” the weather conditions.
The airline said in a statement: “Our teams on the ground are working...to contact customers in resort and provide them with essential items, where possible, due to road closures and flooding. Customers are recommended to follow the advice of local authorities on the ground.
“We are working to get those currently in Skiathos back home to the UK as soon as it is safe to do so and we will contact them directly with their flight details once they are confirmed.
“We have made the difficult decision to cancel our flights on September 5 and 6.
“Customers due to travel on these flights are able to amend their holiday for free with a 10 per cent rebooking incentive or receive a full refund if they no longer wish to travel. We will be contacting these customers to discuss their options.”
Sobering scenes continue to emerge from Thessaly, Greece as the region is experiencing one of its worst flooding events on record. Continuous heavy rainfall have turned the streets of Skiathos into raging rivers. pic.twitter.com/iHumXamWem
— Nahel Belgherze (@WxNB_) September 5, 2023
Holidaymaker Emma Taylor, who has been stranded by the weather, told MailOnline: “This is a serious storm. Flooding in our hotel corridors, ceilings, power cuts, and we’re lucky as we’re up high at the Skiathos Palace, Koukounaries.
“Some guests have been asked to check out of their rooms.”
Another holidaymaker told the website: “Food supplies are running out at the hotel. No more can be supplied because the road by our hotel has collapsed.
“The rain has been heavy for around 36 hours. Our hotel is now homing local families who have lost theirs on the beach.”
— Emma Margaret Taylor (@balderdashtale) September 5, 2023
Some 10 people were trapped on the banks of a torrent in southern Pelion, Michalis Mitzikos, a local mayor, told Skai television.
Greece has said the weather was the most extreme, in terms of rainfall, since records have been kept.
“Yesterday the rainfall was very intense, unprecedented,” said Vasilis Batsios, 44, in Volos.
“For 24 hours it was nonstop and there was a lot of water, the amount of water was unbelievable.”
The volume of water that fell in Pelion on Tuesday was equal to annual rainfall in London, meteorologist George Tsatrafyllias said on platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
Authorities sent mobile phone alerts in several other areas of central Greece, the Sporades island chain and the island of Evia warning people to limit their movements outdoors.
Greece’s minister for civil protection, Vassilis Kikilias, said the storms were forecast to ease after noon on Wednesday and urged people in afflicted areas to stay indoors.
The storm comes on the heels of major summer wildfires that hit Greece over the past few weeks, with some burning for more than a fortnight and destroying vast tracts of forest and farmland.
More than 20 people were killed in the fires.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis blamed both the wildfires and storms on climate change, while conceding that his centre-right government “clearly didn’t manage things as well as we would have liked” on the wildfire front.
“I am afraid that the careless summers, as we knew them … will cease to exist and from now on the coming summers are likely to be ever more difficult,” he said on Tuesday.