Feb 1, 2015 10:23 AM

Flash floods hit Greece, Albania, force evacuations

The Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece (AP) Flash floods caused by heavy rains have hit northwestern Greece and southern Albania, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of villagers Sunday and destroying a famous 18th-century stone bridge.

No casualties were reported in either country.

Heavy rains began Saturday in the northwestern Greek province of Epirus, prompting authorities to evacuate four villages and several isolated farmhouses close to the city of Arta.

By Sunday, at least four rivers had overflowed their banks, three of them near Arta and another closer to Greece's border with Albania. The Plaka Bridge near Arta also collapsed.

"The greatest problems are in the Arta area. But we have floods throughout Epirus, and problems from high winds and some flooding throughout Greece," a fire brigade spokeswoman told The Associated Press.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was at the Fire Brigade's emergency command center in Athens, where he urged government experts to go to the flooded areas and inspect the roads and monuments at risk there. Tsipras said he was "very sad" to hear about the Plaka Bridge.

In southern Albania, heavy rain and snow caused rivers to flood thousands of hectares (acres), hundreds of homes and many roads.

Police and army troops evacuated scores of flooded families and their livestock in the districts of Vlore, Fier, Gjirokaster and Berat, some 100-180 kilometers (60-110 miles) south of capital of Tirana, the Interior Ministry said Sunday.

Many areas in southern Albania had no power or water. Police urged residents to cancel travel plans and more intense rain was forecast to hit over the next few days.


Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.


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