Over 30 dead in Italy storms
ROME: Floods have killed 12 people on the southern island of Sicily, nine of them from the same family, rescue services said Sunday, taking the week’s toll across Italy past 30.
Six Italian regions remain on high alert for storms.
The bodies of nine people were found in their house in Casteldaccia in the Palermo region, next to a small river which had burst its banks, rescue services said.
The victims included children aged one, three, and 15.
Three other members of the family managed to escape, one by climbing a tree, the Agi news agency reported.
“I lost everything, I have nothing left, just my daughter,” one of the survivors, Giuseppe Giordano, told journalists.
His wife, two other children, his parents, brother, and sister all died, he said.
After flying over Casteldaccia Sunday, Sicilian prosecutor Ambrogio Cartosio described a “total disaster”.
Officials have opened an investigation to determine whether houses built near the river met legal safety norms.
In a separate incident, a 44-year-old man was found dead in his car near Vicari, also in the Palermo region.
He had been trying to reach a service station to help a colleague trapped there. A passenger in the car is still missing.
Rescue workers are also searching for a doctor forced by the storms to abandon his car near the town of Corleone after trying to drive to work at the hospital there.
Two other people, a man and a woman, died after their car was caught in the floods in the region of Agrigente, a little further south on the island.
Troops were deployed to check the condition of the main roads on the Mediterranean island Sunday.
Earlier this week, floods in Sicily closed many roads and mayors ordered schools, public parks, and underpasses shut.
A week of deadly storms
Italy has dealt with a series of deadly storms for a week now, especially in the north and around Venice. The severe weather has caused massive damage and disruption. Trees in mountainside forests in the northeast of the country were flattened like matchsticks.
“It’s like after an earthquake,” said the governor of the Veneto region, Luca Zaia. “Thousands of hectares of forest were razed to the ground, as if by a giant electric saw.”
On Sunday, after flying over the region with Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, Zaia said the storms had destroyed 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres) of pine forest in all.
Salvini posted photos of the devastation in a series of tweets on Sunday after flying over the Alpine town of Belluno.
“We need 40 billion euros ($45.5 billion) to secure the national territory,” he said.
He pledged to collect and spend that sum but, in a barbed aside to the European Union, said he hoped his plans would not provoke overspending complaints from Brussels.
Europe has objected to Italy’s proposed budget, which it says will worsen the country’s already huge deficit.
The canal city of Venice, on Italy’s northeast coast, has also experienced some of its worst flooding ever, and withstood winds of up to 180 kilometres an hour (110 miles an hour).
The picturesque fishing village of Portofino near Genoa, a famed holiday resort on the Italian riviera, was only reachable by sea after the main road collapsed.
An emergency path opened to let residents out was deemed too dangerous.
Italy’s civil protection agency has described the weather lashing the country this week as “one of the most complex meteorological situations of the past 50 to 60 years”.