Gale-force winds, heavy rain and hailstorms lashed Halkidiki, near the city of Thessaloniki. A Czech couple died when their caravan was blown away, and two Romanians and two Russians also died. A seventh body was later found in the sea. Officials say at least 100 others were injured, with 23 people hospitalised.

A state of emergency has been declared, with dozens of rescue workers dispatched to help. Charalambos Steriadis, head of civil protection in northern Greece, described the storm as an “unprecedented phenomenon”. It followed a spell of very hot weather in Greece with temperatures soaring to 37C (98F) over the past two days.

Winds of more than 60mph (100km/h) were recorded in the region, Reuters news agency reports. Images and video posted on social media show trees toppled, cars overturned and buildings damaged. Emily Kishtoo, from Surrey in the UK, was at a beach party with her family when the storm hit on Wednesday night. “It literally came out of nowhere,” she told the BBC. “The lights cut out on the beach that we were in – it was chaos. “People running, screaming and just trying to basically get off the beach.”