By Angeliki Koutantou and Louisa Gouliamaki

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has postponed an annual economic speech scheduled for this weekend and will instead visit areas hit by torrential rain that has flooded homes and destroyed key infrastructure, the government said on Thursday.

At least three people died and four were still missing on Thursday after storm Daniel, pounding Greece since Monday, triggered landslides, destroyed roads and power poles and carried away dozens of cars in muddy waters in the mainland port city of Volos and the surrounding mountainous Pelion area.

Mitsotakis, a conservative who won a second term in July, was expected to outline his main economic policy in a speech opening the annual International Trade Fair in the northern city of Thessaloniki on Saturday, followed by a press conference on Sunday.

“Our country is facing for the third day a phenomenon unlike any other we have seen in the past,” government spokesperson Pavlos Marinakis told a press conference on Thursday.

“The scheduled speech by the prime minister and the usual news conference… are being postponed for the middle of next week,” he said, adding that Mitsotakis would visit the affected areas over the weekend instead.

Heavy rainfall, which came days after a two-week deadly wildfire died out in the north and authorities said was the most extreme on record, has turned many villages in the low-lying area of Karditsa, in the mainland Thessaly plain, into a lake.

Greek television showed houses submerged in flood water in the town of Palamas, near Karditsa, while some people stood on roofs waiting for help.

Dozens of people were trapped inside their flooded residences, the mayor of Palamas, Giorgos Sakellariou, told Open television.

A fire brigade official said that emergency crews assisted by the army and coastguard used lifeboats in an effort to reach storm-hit villages in Karditsa, where water was 2 metres (6.5 feet) deep.

“Operations are been carried out very carefully as flood debris obstructed the boats, while, in other cases, the power of the water does not allow us to approach,” fire brigade spokesperson Vasilios Vathrakogiannis told a briefing.

Government spokesperson Marinakis said that aircraft could not offer any help to the affected areas for now as they were not allowed to fly due to thunderstorms.

British travel company Jet2 said on Wednesday it was cancelling all flights and holidays to the Aegean island of Skiathos, the closest to Volos, up to Sept. 12 due to the weather.

Flash floods in Greece in 2017 killed 25 people and left hundreds homeless.

(Writing by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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