Greek villagers vote to relocate after deadly climate-driven flood

By Karolina Tagaris

ATHENS (Reuters) - Residents of the small Greek farming village of Metamorfosi have voted in favour of relocating their entire community after it was submerged by flood waters in September, seeking to protect themselves from future climate change-driven disasters.

Metamorfosi - which also flooded in 1953 and 1994 - nearly disappeared beneath the water when Storm Daniel, which brought devastation across the Mediterranean, struck the Thessaly region on Sept. 4-7, turning it into an inland sea. Sixteen people were killed, including two who drowned in Metamorfosi.

The village has resembled a ghost town since and residents told Reuters in November they had no choice but to relocate to a safer place.

The proposal to erect new houses in the nearby village of Palamas some 8 km (5 miles) away was approved by 142 residents against 14, via an informal vote in the form of a statutory declaration, said Metamorfosi community president Petros Kontogiannis. About 15 people abstained, he said.

"The vote shows that people cannot bear to live through this again," Kontogiannis told Reuters. "There is hope that we will have homes that will ensure our safety."

The plan was formally approved late on Tuesday by Palamas municipal authorities, which will provide the plot of land.

Residents will now take the proposal to the government together with a technical study citing "repeated flooding" and Metamorfosis' geomorphology as reasons for the move.

The government has said it would consider the relocation of Metamorfosi, whose name means "transformation" in Greek.

"I, personally, am completely open to it," Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told parliament last month.

"Let's build a new Metamorfosi, a new village, with contemporary standards, that will finally be safe from floods, so that these people don't drown every 30 years," he said.

(This story has been refiled to correct the spelling to statutory, not statuary, in paragraph 4)

(Reporting by Karolina Tagaris; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)