by Maria Spiliopoulou
ATHENS, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- Flood-stricken areas at the outskirts of Athens as well as many parts of Greece were battered anew on Thursday by strong thunderstorms, as firefighters continued the search for five people still missing after the flash floods that resulted in 15 casualties on Wednesday, according to the Fire Brigade.
In a light of hope amid the mud, the gray skies and the national mourning for the victims, two persons who had been reported missing by relatives were located in good health on Thursday near the town of Mandra which was hit hardest by the torrential rain, local authorities said.
Residents in this area which is located about 20 kilometers west of Athens faced more heavy rainfall on Thursday which made more difficult the efforts to locate the missing, clean up tones of debris, restore electricity and support people left homeless. The number of the people affected has still not been estimated.
All those affected by the floods will be compensated, Interior Minister Panos Skourletis said on Thursday in an interview with local ANT1 TV.
The Greek official underlined that support for the flood victims is a government priority and that any accommodation, water and electricity problems will be immediately addressed.
Moreover, he stressed that a master plan will be drawn up to avoid similar tragedies in the future.
The first priority of the government is to find those missing and avoid more victims or disasters, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos added when speaking to public broadcaster ERT1.
A total of 90 rescue operations have been carried out so far in the areas affected by the floods, he said, adding that the army has opened up its resorts to provide food and shelter to flood victims.
Regarding the compensation for damages, Tzanakopoulos said that the Greek Finance Ministry has already taken the necessary steps to make use of the emergency fund set up by the European Commission following the devastating floods that hit Europe in 2002.
Meanwhile the Shipping Ministry announced that a shipping company offered a cruise ship which can host up to 914 people to temporarily house residents of Mandra, Elefsina and Megara who were left homeless by the flooding in the area.
In addition to the relief measures and compensations, flood-stricken residents request justice amid allegations for severe urban planning violations in the area.
The Regional Governor of Attica Rena Dourou requested the Supreme Court Prosecutor to investigate the causes that led to the "unprecedented disaster."
Greek meteorologists warned that the the current weather front which has hit Greece since last weekend is expected to continue affecting the country until at least Saturday, bringing more heavy rain and storms.
Throughout the country on Thursday, in the Greek capital, as well as the northern cities of Thessaloniki and Naoussa, as well as Ioannina and the island of Cephalonia in the west, heavy rains and strong winds turned streets into rivers and caused traffic disruptions and flooding. The fire service said that it received more than 100 telephone calls to pump out waters from flooded homes and businesses in northern Greece.
Firefighters also rescued a young man who had been stranded in his car during the storm on Cephalonia island.