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7 dead after powerful midweek storm strikes northern Greece

By Kristina Pydynowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
July 12, 2019, 6:27:00 AM EDT


Seven people were killed and more than 100 were injured when a thunderstorm with damaging winds swept through northern Greece Wednesday night.

The thunderstorm struck the northern Halkidiki region, near city of Thessaloniki.

The death toll rose to seven on Thursday when the body of a 62-year-old was found off the coast of the Halkidiki Peninsula, according to the Associated Press. The fisherman had been missing since taking his boat out on Wednesday afternoon, shortly before the storm whipped through.

Two people were killed when the strong thunderstorm winds overturned their recreational vehicle. A woman was fatally struck by an outdoor restaurant's lean-to roof that had collapsed. Her 8-year-old child was also hit and later succumbed to his injuries.

Falling trees are being blamed for the deaths of the other two individuals.

Six of the fatalities were tourists from Russia, the Czech Republic and Romania.

More than 100 other people sustained injuries; 35 of those individuals were hospitalized. A total of 22 remained in the hospital on Thursday with one woman in critical condition.

Greece storm July 11

An overturned vehicle is seen on a beach at Sozopoli village in Halkidiki region, northern Greece, on Thursday, July 11, 2019, after the powerful thunderstorm struck the night before. (Giannis Moisiadis/InTime News via AP)


According to preliminary weather observations, the thunderstorm winds produced a gust of 78 km/h (48 mph) in Thessaloniki shortly before 10 p.m. EEST (3 p.m. EDT) Wednesday.

A state of emergency was declared following the deadly thunderstorm, which caused 80 percent of the area to lose power. Downed trees blocked roads.

"The violent thunderstorm was triggered when a strong cold front swept through and brought an end to the heat wave that has been gripping the region," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Rob Richards.

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Prior to Wednesday's high of 31.8 C (89 F), temperatures soared to or past 32 C (90 F) the first nine days of the month at Thessaloniki. A high of 31 C (88 F) is more typical this time of year.

High temperatures will be held to more comfortable readings of around 29 C (84 F) through this weekend.

After welcoming the return of drier weather on Thursday, a shower or thunderstorm will rattle parts of the region during the late afternoon and evening hours of Friday and then again on Saturday afternoon. More numerous showers and thunderstorms will follow for later in the weekend.

While the thunderstorms are not expected to be as severe as what occurred on Wednesday, any thunderstorm will bring lightning dangers to those participating in storm cleanup operations.

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