Palermo.- At least 12 people died yesterday on the Italian island of Sicily because of severe flooding from prolonged torrential rains, police said.
Almost all the deceased are members of two families of Casteldaccia, near Palermo, the capital of Sicily. The tragedy occurred when a flood swept through his house in the face of the rapid rise of a river.
"I do not know how I managed to save myself," said one survivor of the Casteldaccia tragedy: "I noticed that the water entered the house. I told everyone 'let's get out of here fast!' "He told local media. When he opened the door, he was dragged by the mass of water and catapulted it out. But he could cling to a tree and be saved.
Another man and a girl were saved because at the time of the tragedy they had gone out to buy sweets. However, nine people – family members of the survivors – died, including small children of one and three years old.
The mayor of Casteldaccia, Giovanni Di Giacinto, described the event as an "immense tragedy".
Another corpse was found in the town of Vicari. In addition, two people were killed in the province of Agrigento when their car was washed away, a local police spokesman said.
About 30 people have lost their lives for a week throughout Italy, when several storms began to hit the country.
"It is a state of exception that I never saw," acknowledged the Civil Defense chief, Angelo Borrelli, to La Stampa newspaper. He had previously spoken of "apocalyptic" scenes in the province of Belluno, in the Veneto region, in the north.
Due to heavy rains, masses of rocks and mud washed away houses and streets. Thousands of trees were knocked down, which makes the situation worse, as the water advances more easily.
The Italian farmers association Coldiretti estimated the number of trees downed by 14 million.
Hundreds of houses were damaged and the power grid does not work in many places. The early arrival of winter also forces to accelerate the reconstruction work.
The interior minister, Matteo Salvini, went yesterday to Belluno to see the situation closely. He took advantage of his visit to condemn "the many years of neglect" and the "salon environmental policy" of previous governments.
However, his visit sparked a strong controversy due to a photo he posted on social networks in which he is seen smiling and with his thumb raised in Venice, as if it were a tourist, during his tour of the Veneto region, one of the most hit by the storm.
Users accused him of not having mercy and reminded him that what happens in the country "is a tragedy, not a trip".