Two people have been confirmed dead and another is missing after a hurricane-like storm swept across Greece.

Hundreds of people were trapped in flooded buildings as Cyclone Ianos, known as a “medicane” (Mediterranean hurricane), battered areas north of Athens.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has sent three senior officials to the worst-hit central region.

Train services linking the north and south of the country have been cut.

Footage on social media showed huge waves lashing the beaches on the Ionian islands of Kefalonia and Zakynthos on Friday as the storm headed in. Flights and ferry services were cancelled and tourists were advised to stay indoors.

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As Ianos churned eastwards overnight, the city of Karditsa north of Athens was lashed by winds of up to 120km/h (75mph) that brought down trees and power lines and triggered landslides.

Flooding in Karditsa

image copyrightEPA

Corinth, Peloponnese, Greece, 19 September 2020.

image copyrightEPA

Flooded roads in the village of Artesiano, in central Greece, September 19, 202

image copyrightReuters

TV images showed Karditsa badly flooded, with a bridge collapsed.

“We’re dealing with a total catastrophe,” said Nikolaos Gousios, a resident of nearby Farsala village.

A man was found dead on his farm in the Karditsa area while the body of a woman was recovered from her flooded home in a nearby town, local media reported.

Another woman was swept away in her car and has not yet been found, firefighters said.

Boat battered by medicane in Kefalonia, Greece, 18 Sep 20

image copyrightReuters

A search is also taking place for a boat believed to be carrying 55 migrants off the western Peloponnese that was reported to be in distress on Friday. However, the Greek coast guard told AFP news agency that the boat may have changed course after receiving no help.

On Saturday, the cyclone was bearing down on the greater Athens region but there were no reports of damage so far, Reuters reported.

Medicanes – tropical-like cyclones – have only been categorised by meteorologists in the past 40 years, according to Kostas Lagouvardos, an expert at the Athens Observatory.

“Mediterranean cyclones or hurricanes have tropical characteristics like those in the Atlantic, but they often have a smaller volume and are less intense,” he told AFP news agency.

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