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Flooding in Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey kills at least 22


Flooding in Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey has killed at least 22 people with the death toll in Greece rising to 11 after another body was recovered.

The body of a 77-year-old man was recovered in central Greece late on Saturday with number of missing also rising to six, but officials say there could be more.

The man was living in the seaside village of Paltsi, in the mountainous Pelion peninsula situated between the Aegean Sea to the east and Pagasitikos gulf to the west.

He had refused to leave his home, despite the entreaties of his wife, who evacuated. "I have been through storms," he had told her.

The man's body drifted in the Aegean, past the island of Skiathos, to another island, Evia, where it was found, authorities said.

Pelion was hit by torrential rains first on Tuesday, with some locations reporting close to 76cm of rain in less than a day. The rest of the region of Thessaly, to the west, was struck later Tuesday and on Wednesday and Thursday.

Another village near a major Greek city was ordered evacuated on Saturday afternoon as authorities frantically shored up flood defences against a rising river.

Rescue crews were evacuating stranded residents from areas already flooded elsewhere in Thessaly.

The village of Omorfochori, about 8km by road from the city of Larissa, Thessaly's capital and largest city, was ordered evacuated by SMS alert due to the rising waters of the Pineios river. Residents were directed to a town to the southeast.

But the main concern remains that the already overflowing river could inundate Larissa itself, a city of around 150,000. Authorities placed tens of thousands of bags full of sand and pebbles along the river's banks, while opening up diversion channels west of the city.

The governor of Thessaly, Kostas Agorastos, was visiting the town of Palamas - one of the worst stricken areas in the southwest of the region - when he was evacuated by police on Saturday afternoon. A small crowd of protesters had started shouting abuse at him and then jostled him, a video posted on social media showed.

Agorastos, a member of the ruling conservative New Democracy party, said local and regional elections cannot take place in Thessaly as scheduled on October 8, with runoffs a week later.

But there has been much criticism about state and local authorities' response to the latest disaster to hit Greece, hard on the heels of devastating wildfires.

The rescue response to the floods that resulted from torrential rains that hit the area from Tuesday to Thursday was negligible until early Thursday, while people were clinging to the roofs of their stricken homes, according to a report in Greek daily newspaper Kathimerini.

The paper reported that, of the Air Force's 12 search-and-rescue Puma helicopters, only four are operational, with the rest either cannibalised for spare parts or grounded for so long that they can no longer fly.