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Storms lash the Greek islands

Last year may have been one of the warmest years on record, according to the scientists, but 2015 has kicked off with severe storms across much of Greece and the Greek islands.

After weeks of snow and blizzards in January, the country and its islands are now being swept by high winds and driving rain.

Ferries have been blockaded in the mainland ports of Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrio as storm force gales forced them off the Aegean seas.

Only a few routes across the sheltered Saronic Gulf to the island of Aegina have been allowed this week and even large ferries and catamarans have been confined to port.

Ferry companies have cancelled scheduled services to islands in the Cyclades, the Dodecanese, the north Aegean and to Crete as high winds and rough seas rage throughout the region.

Services were also cancelled in Rafina and Lavrio as ferries battened down the hatches. Even huge cruise liners have been affected by the storms.

Minoan Lines said the planned route of the cruise ship Cruise Europa had been diverted from the port of Patras to Ancona because of the severe weather in the Ionian Sea.

Strong winds and driving rain were blamed for the collapse of the historic Plaka Bridge in the north-west region of Zagori on Sunday.

Ministry of Culture officials are drawing up plans to rebuild the historic single arched bridge, which dates from the 18th century.

One of the widest stone bridges in Greece, the 40-metre long Plaka bridge spanned the Arachthos River which became a raging torrent at the weekend.

Culture officials say they will wait for the waters to subside before recovering the stonework and restoring the historic bridge.

The bridge became a symbol of the Greek resistance against Nazi occupation in World War II after the Plaka agreement was signed there, uniting the Greek resistance forces.

It survived German bombing raids and has been used ever since to link connecting Tzoumerka with Epirus and Thessaly.

In January Greece suffered heavy snowfalls and freezing conditions and a woman was killed on the island of Lesvos when a car was crushed by a falling tree.

Storm force winds forced ships to remain in ports across the country and ports like Igoumenitsa and Volos were closed and services to the Greek islands suspended.

A snap cold spell brought heavy snow ad power cuts for several days on the island of Tinos as temperatures plunged.

Heavy snowfalls were reported in Evia, the Peloponnese, Crete and may of the Cyclades islands.

Coupled with the political turmoil it has been a stormy start in Greece and the Greek islands this year. let's hope things calm down when the holiday season gets under way.

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