Six tourists killed and 60 injured after freak hail storm batters northern Greece

Six tourists have died and more than 60 were injured after a powerful hail storm swept through northern Greece.

Officials said the violent storm hit the popular tourist region of Halkidiki late on Wednesday, knocking over trees and power pylons, blocking roads and causing power outages. It only lasted around 20 minutes.

Two people were killed by falling trees and another two, said to be a Czech couple, died when gale-force winds overturned the vehicle they were in, which is believed to have been a caravan.

A man rides a bicycle among debris after a storm at Nea Plagia village in Halkidiki region, northern Greece, Thursday, July 11, 2019. A powerful storm hit the northern Halkidiki region late Wednesday. (Giannis Moisiadis/InTime News via AP) (Giannis Moisiadis/InTime News via AP)
Six people have died after a powerful storm hit northern Greece (Picture: Giannis Moisiadis/InTime News via AP)

A 54-year-old mother and her son were killed after an outdoor restaurant’s lean-to roof collapsed, authorities said.

Haris Lazaridis, owner of the tavern, said that over 100 people were sheltering under the roof at the moment of its collapse.

"For five minutes it was hellish," he told AFP. "There was panic, people were howling and running to hide inside.”

An overturned vehicle is seen on a beach at Sozopoli village in Halkidiki region, northern Greece, Thursday, July 11, 2019. A powerful storm hit northern Greece late Wednesday. (Giannis Moisiadis/InTime News via AP)
The storm left vehicles overturned and toppled power pylons (Picture: Giannis Moisiadis/InTime News via AP)
Damages at the beach at a hotel in Porto Carras, Halkidki, Greece July 11, 2019 after severe weather hit Greece.  REUTERS/Iona Serrapica - RC135B94FF00
One witness said she was at a beach party when the storm hit (Picture: REUTERS/Iona Serrapica)

According to emergency services, around 65 people were also injured, of whom 35 were taken to hospital.

A state of emergency has been declared in the region, which is a popular tourist destination.


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Holidaymaker Kyriakos Athanasiadis told AFP: "It was a miracle that there weren't more deaths. Nearly all the coastal restaurants were full, and you could see large objects flying."

Emily Kishtoo, from Surrey, told the BBC she was at a beach party with her family when the storm hit. "It literally came out of nowhere," she said.

A man walks on a damaged terrace following heavy storms at the village of Nea Plagia, Greece, July 11, 2019. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis - RC1F442EFA20
The storm reportedly lasted just 20 minutes (Picture: REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis)

She added: "The lights cut out on the beach that we were in - it was chaos.

“People running, screaming and just trying to basically get off the beach."

The storm, which reportedly lasted just 20 minutes, comes after a hot spell in Greece which saw temperatures rise to 37C (98F) over the past two days.

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