Newlyweds killed as holiday home swept away


An Austrian couple, on their honeymoon in Greece is confirmed to have died, after torrential rains swept away the house they were staying in.

Their holiday home in the resort of Potistika, near Mount Pelion, was washed into the sea by flash floods brought by Storm Daniel on 6 September.

Thanasis Samaras, owner of the home, previously said they were from Graz.

Although the pair have not been named, the Austrian foreign ministry said DNA tests had verified their identities.

A spokesperson told the BBC: “It is with deep sadness that we have to confirm the death of two Austrian citizens in Greece.

“The comparisons of DNA profiles have now confirmed the identity of the two missing persons.

“In these difficult times, we extend our deepest condolences to the families and the bereaved.”

Austrian embassy staff in Athens were providing support to the couple’s relatives, the spokesperson added.

Also on Saturday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said his country was facing “a war in a time of peace”.

“Over a two-week period, we experienced the worst wildfire and the worst floods in our history.”

Speaking in Thessaloniki, Mr Mitsotakis promised more funding for those affected and said the army would be strengthened to better respond to natural disasters. That would be done by raising tourist taxes, he added.

More than a dozen people are now known to have died since Storm Daniel hit Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria last week.

The floods which killed 15 people left thousands in temporary shelters or with relatives, while 30 villages were inaccessible with a threat of waterborne diseases.

Some Greek regions received up to 800mm (31.5in) of rain – more than normally seen in a whole year.

The Karditsa plain in central Greece was described as having turned into a lake, with villages around Palamas drowned in water.

The mayor of Palamas, Giorgos Sakellariou, told Greek TV that people were stranded in their homes and described the situation as tragic.

On 8 September, the holiday home’s owner told the BBC the Austrian couple had decided to shelter inside the bungalow they had rented for their honeymoon as the heavy rainfall swept central Greece.

Mr Samaras said he and other guests had left for higher ground and had advised the couple to do the same.

“The situation was very bad. It’s very difficult to decide what to do in a moment like that,” Mr Samaras said.

Climate scientists have warned that global warming means more water evaporating during the summer, leading to more intense storms.

Greece has battled devastating wildfires for most of the summer. This included the EU’s largest on record, in which at least 20 people were killed last month. (BBC)