Belfast Telegraph

Bangor family's terror after being caught up in killer storm in Greece

A man rides a bicycle among debris after a storm at Nea Plagia village in Halkidiki region, northern Greece. Credit: Giannis Moisiadis/InTime News via AP
A man rides a bicycle among debris after a storm at Nea Plagia village in Halkidiki region, northern Greece. Credit: Giannis Moisiadis/InTime News via AP

A Bangor man has spoken of his family's terror after being caught in killer storm that tore through northern Greece while they were on holiday.

Andy Gilchrist (48), his 43-year-old wife Katie and daughter Grace (9) were having dinner on a restaurant terrace at the five-star Ikos Oceania hotel on Wednesday night when the storm hit.

Video from the scene shows gale-force winds blowing in windows as staff and customers dive for cover.

Speaking to the Mail Online, Andy said his family "wouldn't have stood a chance" if they had been outside the restaurant.

A powerful storm hit the northern Halkidiki region late Wednesday. (Giannis Moisiadis/InTime News via AP)
A powerful storm hit the northern Halkidiki region late Wednesday. (Giannis Moisiadis/InTime News via AP)

"I've never seen anything like it, not even close. You wouldn't have stood a chance if you were out in it. If you'd been on the balcony you'd have been 60 miles away by the time it finished," he said.

Greek police said six tourists were killed during the storm and 23 were injured.

Andy said his family were having coffee and dessert when the saw lightning in the distance, but within "a click of the fingers" it became a violent storm.

Waiters began diving over tables, trying to clear away bottles as they are flung across the room by the gale. They attempted to close the outer glass shutters of the restaurant, but were forced back by the force of the wind.

Andy said his daughter Grace got "really, really frightened" and ran to hide in the toilets with five other women.

"There were six of them in one cubicle, my daughter was upset and they were calming her down. We were trapped there, basically, because there was no way we were going out in it," he said.

A powerful storm hit northern Greece late Wednesday. (Giannis Moisiadis/InTime News via AP)
A powerful storm hit northern Greece late Wednesday. (Giannis Moisiadis/InTime News via AP)

"The storm lasted for more than half an hour, probably 40 minutes full-on. We were in the restaurant for an hour to an hour and a half before we could leave.

"The staff were really frightened too. A lot of them have family nearby and they couldn't get through to them on the phone.

"They told me that not only have they not seen anything like it, their parents haven't seen it before either. It's unprecedented."

A state of emergency has now been declared in the region as crews attempt to clear the wreckage caused by the storm.

Fortunately, Andy said no guests or staff at the hotel were injured and, despite his family's terrifying ordeal, the storm hasn't put him off coming back to Greece.

"But I think with every rain cloud now everyone's going to be ducking for cover," he added.

People search and clean a damaged square after a storm at Sozopoli village in Halkidiki region, northern Greece. Credit: Vassilis Konstantopoulos/InTime News via AP
People search and clean a damaged square after a storm at Sozopoli village in Halkidiki region, northern Greece. Credit: Vassilis Konstantopoulos/InTime News via AP

According to Greek police, two elderly Czech tourists were killed when the storm swept away their caravan.

A 54-year-old Romanian woman and an eight-year-old boy also died when the roof of a restaurant collapsed in the Nea Plagia region.

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