Two Austrians who went missing in the catastrophic floods in Greece have been confirmed dead, according to the Austrian Foreign Ministry. The tragedy unfolded in the resort of Potistika, near Mount Pelion, where torrential rains triggered by Storm Daniel swept away the holiday home the couple was staying in.
The couple, on their honeymoon from Graz, Austria, were confirmed deceased after DNA tests matched two recovered bodies. “It is our sad duty to announce the death of two Austrian citizens in Greece,” the ministry said in a poignant statement. “The results of the DNA analyses confirmed that these are the two people who have been missing since the severe floods.”
The owner of the holiday home, Thanasis Samaras, had previously confirmed the Austrians were from Graz. A spokesperson from the Austrian foreign ministry expressed their deep condolences, adding that the Austrian embassy staff in Athens were providing support to the bereaved families.
The disaster occurred on September 6, when Storm Daniel ravaged Greece, causing flash floods that washed the couple’s holiday home into the sea. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis referred to the situation as “a war in a time of peace,” acknowledging that Greece had experienced the worst wildfire and floods in its history over a two-week period.
The devastating impact of Storm Daniel extended beyond Greece, affecting Turkey and Bulgaria. The aftermath of the flood has left thousands sheltered temporarily or with relatives, with 30 villages rendered inaccessible due to the risk of waterborne diseases. Some regions in Greece received up to 800mm (31.5in) of rain, exceeding the annual average, transforming the Karditsa plain into a large lake and submerging villages around Palamas.
The scale of the disaster prompted Mr. Mitsotakis to pledge additional funding for those affected and to strengthen the army’s capacity to respond to natural disasters. This initiative would be funded by an increase in tourist taxes, he added.
The Austrian couple had decided to stay inside their rented bungalow as heavy rainfall swept central Greece, despite advice from Mr. Samaras and other guests to seek higher ground. “The situation was very bad. It’s very difficult to decide what to do in a moment like that,” Mr. Samaras recounted.
Climate scientists warn that global warming is intensifying these disasters. The increased evaporation during summer leads to more intense storms, while Greece was already battling devastating wildfires throughout the summer, including the EU’s largest on record.
This tragic incident serves as a grim reminder of the growing threat of climate change. As nations around the world grapple with the intensifying weather phenomena, the death of these Austrians in Greece underscores the urgency of concerted global action to combat climate change.