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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

In Greece, another tourist found dead amid scorching heat wave



A general view of the village of Loutro on the south coast of the Greek island of Crete, July 24, 2007. Greek authorities said Monday that the body of a missing German man was recovered near a gorge in southwest Crete, the latest in a series of fatal incidents involving tourists undertaking demanding hikes in the scorching heat. (Yannis Kolesidis/The New York Times)

By Niki Kitsantonis


Greek authorities said Monday that the body of a missing German man was recovered near a gorge on the island of Crete, the latest in a series of fatal incidents involving tourists undertaking demanding hikes in the scorching heat.


At least 10 tourists have gone missing or been found dead this year in similar circumstances, according to Greek authorities. The country has experienced back-to-back heat waves earlier than usual this year, with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) in many areas for several days in a row.


The 67-year-old man’s body was found in “rugged and inaccessible terrain” near the Tripiti Gorge in southwestern Crete, the fire service said in a statement. It was first spotted by a drone Sunday evening. Early Monday, the fire service sent a helicopter, although it took responders several hours to reach the body.


As of Monday, the man’s name and cause of death had not been released.


According to Constantina Dimoglidou, a police spokesperson, the man had contacted his wife early Sunday afternoon, saying he had run out of water and felt ill. He did not know his location, but authorities traced his cellphone signal.


The Tripiti Gorge is a demanding trek generally undertaken by experienced hikers, Dimoglidou said.


Monday’s discovery was the most recent in a string of tourist deaths in the past month.


An 80-year-old Belgian man, a Dutch man and a Frenchwoman, both 70, died while on separate hiking trips on Crete.


Another Dutch hiker, 74, was found dead on the Greek island of Samos.


On June 9, the remains of a well-known British medical journalist and documentary maker, Michael Mosley, were found on the island of Symi, after his disappearance during a walk in extreme heat.


At least three more tourists are still missing after going on hikes, including Albert Calibet, a 59-year-old dual national of the United States and France who has been missing on the Aegean island of Amorgos since June 11. Authorities are still looking for two Frenchwomen, age 73 and 64, who disappeared June 14 on the island of Sikinos.


Any hopes of rescuing the missing hikers after so many days are ebbing, Dimoglidou said, while the prospect of even locating their remains becomes increasingly uncertain with each passing day as decomposition accelerates in the intense heat.


Hikers going astray is not a new thing, Dimoglidou said, but they don’t often turn up dead in ravines. “This year, it seems that more people became disoriented in the intense heat,” she said.


On days when extreme heat is forecast, Greek authorities generally issue warnings to older citizens and those with health issues to stay indoors. Those are guidelines, however, and there are typically no bans on hiking or on entrance to historic sites.


However, because of the extreme heat, Greek authorities closed many schools in Athens earlier this month and restricted visiting hours to several ancient sites, including the Acropolis.

The search for missing hikers is occurring as the Greek fire service also scrambles to douse wildfires in several parts of the country. Days of sweltering temperatures, dried-out brush and strong winds have created tinderbox conditions, fueling fires on the Greek islands and the mainland.

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