Heavy winds destroy forests in stormy Italy
Rome: Heavy winds and rain have killed at least 20 people in Italy this week and destroyed thousands of hectares of forest in the devastated north of the country, the authorities said.
An 87-year-old woman and a 62-year-old German tourist were killed on Friday after a lightning strike in Sardinia.
According to the country's civil protection authority, the number of people killed by storms in Italy since the beginning of the week has risen to 20. Meteorologists predict more wind and rain for the whole weekend.
The trees that covered the mountain slopes of the Dolomites were reduced to matches that were made flabby on Thursday by the winds that were torn by the Veneto region.
"It's like an earthquake," said Venetian Governor Luca Zaia. "Thousands of acres of forest have been knocked down like a giant electric saw."
In addition, 160,000 people in the region would no longer have electricity, Zaia said, adding that parts of the Dolomites "act on the surface of the moon".
"We went to our knees," said the politician.
The thunderstorms in northern Italy killed two retirees aged 74 and 73 on Thursday when a tree fell on their car in the Aosta Valley. Another person fell into a river in the Brescia region and was carried away by the current.
In South Tyrol, an 81-year-old died after a fall from the damaged roof of his hut, while a 53-year-old, whose car was hit by a falling tree in bad weather, died on Monday.
– cut off –
Several cities in the province of Belluno were cut off after a landslide had damaged a mountain road, and repair efforts were hampered by continued heavy rains.
Floods in Sicily have closed many roads and mayors closed schools, public parks and underpasses.
The quaint fishing village of Portofino, near Genoa, a famous resort on the Italian Riviera, was only accessible by sea after the main road collapsed and an emergency path was opened that made the residents drive out as too dangerous.
"It will not be easy or fast, but we expect Portofino to return to the millions of tourists who want to visit it next summer," said Giovanni Toti, the governor of the region.
The region of Genoa alone suffered tens of millions of dollars in damages – a price that could increase to hundreds of millions in the long term.
Italy's civil protection authority described the weather this week as "one of the most complex meteorological situations of the last 50 to 60 years".
Venice was flooded by a record-high flood on Monday, fierce storms drove strong winds up to 180 kilometers per hour, and hundreds of trees were torn from their roots in the Italian capital.