'To­tal dis­as­ter' as Italy storms kill at least 30

Watchmen Daily Journal - - World -

CASTELDACCIA, Italy – Floods killed 12 peo­ple on the is­land of Si­cily, in­clud­ing nine mem­bers of a sin­gle fam­ily, push­ing Italy's week-long storm toll be­yond 30, res­cuers said Sun­day.

Af­ter a river burst its banks, the bod­ies of the fam­ily in­clud­ing chil­dren aged one, three and 15 were dis­cov­ered in the coastal town of Casteldaccia east of the cap­i­tal Palermo.

Res­cue ser­vices said the house where they were spend­ing the week­end was sub­merged in wa­ter and mud. The other vic­tims' ages ranged from 32 to 65.

Three fam­ily mem­bers man­aged to es­cape, one by climb­ing a tree where he stayed for more than 2 hours, the Agi news agency re­ported.

"I lost ev­ery­thing, I have noth­ing left, just my daugh­ter," one of the sur­vivors, 35-yearold Giuseppe Gior­dano, told jour­nal­ists.

His wife, two other chil­dren, his par­ents, brother, and sis­ter, his nephew and the boy's grand­mother all died, he said.

Af­ter fly­ing over Casteldaccia on Sun­day, Si­cil­ian pros­e­cu­tor Am­bro­gio Car­to­sio de­scribed scenes of "to­tal dis­as­ter."

Of­fi­cials have opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion to de­ter­mine whether houses built near the river had com­plied with safety norms.

In a sep­a­rate in­ci­dent in Si­cily, 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, where he was the man­ager, to help a col­league trapped there. A 20-year-old pas­sen­ger in the car with him is still miss­ing.

Res­cue work­ers are also search­ing for a doc­tor, 40, forced by the storms to aban­don his car on the road 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 rental car was swept away by a tor­rent in the re­gion of Agri­gente, res­cuers said.

Vi­o­lent winds and strong rain had killed at least 20 other peo­ple this week around Italy, es­pe­cially in the north.

Two were re­ported killed on Fri­day, in­clud­ing a 62-yearold Ger­many tourist struck by light­ning in Sar­dinia.

Six re­gions re­main on high alert for storms.

The se­vere weather has caused mas­sive dam­age and dis­rup­tion. Trees in sprawl­ing moun­tain­side forests in the north­east of the coun­try were flat­tened like match­sticks by vi­o­lent winds.

"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 area with Italy's In­te­rior Min­is­ter Mat­teo Salvini, Zaia said the storms had de­stroyed 100,000 hectares (250,000 acres) of pine for­est in all.

Salvini posted pho­tos of the dev­as­ta­tion in a se­ries of tweets Sun­day af­ter also 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 kilo­me­ters an hour (110 miles an hour).

Floods in Si­cily have closed many roads this week, and may­ors or­dered schools, pub­lic parks and un­der­passes shut.

On Sun­day, troops were de­ployed to check the con­di­tion of the main roads on the Mediter­ranean is­land.

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."

(Guglielmo Man­gia­pane, Reuters)

A man walks past a truck af­ter the river Mili­cia flooded caus­ing the death of sev­eral peo­ple in Casteldaccia near Palermo, Italy, Sun­day.

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