Rare ‘medicane’ storm hits Greece

ATHENS (AFP) – A rare hurricane-like storm hit western Greece yesterday, disrupting travel and causing floods and power outages on several Ionian Sea islands.

“We face intense conditions with winds and very strong rainfall,” Deputy Minister for Civil Protection Nikos Hardalias told reporters.

Mediterranean cyclone Ianos, an unusual phenomenon also known as a “medicane”, packed violent winds of up to 117 kilometres per hour according to the Greek civil protection agency.

The coastguard yesterday said a boat believed to be carrying 55 migrants was in distress off the western Peloponnese amid the gale-force winds.

“For the time being we are unable to send a vessel to help,” a coastguard spokeswoman told AFP. Other ships sailing nearby had been requested to assist, the coastguard said.

A vessel is docked during a storm at the port of Argostoli, on the Ionian island of Kefalonia, western Greece. PHOTO: AP

“Trees are falling everywhere,” Ionian Islands governor Rodi Kratsa told state TV ERT.

Minister Hardalias said there were no reports of injuries so far, adding that forecasts saw the cyclone shifting southwards.

The islands of Cephalonia, Ithaki and Zakynthos have been hit with power outages and part of the local road network has been cut off, he said. Smaller problems have been reported on the islands of Corfu and Lefkada. A parallel weather front will bring storms to central Greece, Hardalias said.

Two Ryanair flights to the Ionian island of Cephalonia were earlier unable to land at the local airport and were rerouted to Athens.

The Migration Ministry yesterday said over 800 asylum seekers from three camps near Athens would be relocated as a precaution.

The 778 migrants from the camps of Elaionas, Malakasa and Schisto would be moved to a conference hall in Athens.