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Greece Warns of Infectious Diseases After Floods Leave Livestock Dead


ATHENS – The death toll from flash floods that have inundated central Greece due to Storm Daniel has risen to 12 with the number expected to rise. The clean-up task in the Thessaly area comes as health officials warn of infectious diseases that are breaking out as a result of dead livestock scattered across devastated sections.

Hara Petropoulou pleas for assistance after Storm Daniel caused widespread flooding in central Greece.

“Help,” she shouts to the anchor of a Sunday morning show. “Please help.”

“We may have survived the floods that drowned our towns and homes… but the stench of decomposing animal carcasses …. Our chickens, our goats, rabbits and sheep… It is horrific and it is going to kill us,” she adds.

The wife of a farmer in the farming heartland of Greece, Petropoulou says she is left with no other option than to clean up the debris herself.

“I have a bottle of chlorine in my hand… and I’m ready to head out into a meter of mud and floodwaters to clear out our chicken coop and to drag away the dead sheep the storm left behind.”

“I have no other choice,” she says.

Petropoulou is not alone. Thousands of other farmers are following suit.

But that is exactly what health authorities are warning against.

Dysentery, diphtheria, and malaria are just some of the infectious diseases resulting from the floods that ravaged Thessaly, the farming heartland of Greece, and livestock for much of the past week.

A man walks into floodwaters to deliver medicines to a relative after the country's rainstorm record, in the town of Palamas, near Karditsa, Thessaly region, central Greece, Sept. 8, 2023.

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On Sunday, state health and veterinary officials said they had deployed dozens of special crews to collect dead livestock, taking decomposing carcasses to special incinerators to be burned.

But with dozens of villages and hamlets still stranded … all devoid of clean water and sewage, fears of further outbreaks grow.

“Authorities alone have been tasked with the cleanup of dead livestock,” said Deputy Health Minister Irini Agapidakishe on public television.

“People have to stay away from dead livestock, and those that have survived… Goats, chicken, sheep, cows even their pets have to be steered clear and away from contaminated fields.”

“The repercussions,” she said, “will be terrible.”

The looming health crisis adds to Daniel’s destruction after walls of water pounded the Thessaly plain. Officials say over a four-day period, the storm drenched the affected areas with more rainfall than London sees in a full year.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis toured the region to inspect recovery operations. He was expected to announce unprecedented aid measures in a late-night address.

Locals though want more. They say the biggest but most pressing challenge is to rebuild the region to fortify it against future natural disasters and climate change.

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