Italy floods: Death toll climbs to 17 - as 14 million trees destroyed

Additional nine people - from two families - die in Sicily after river bursts banks

Emma Snaith
Sunday 04 November 2018 16:35 GMT
Italy’s emergency forest and fire protection service share aerial footage following flood damage

Heavy rain and gales lashing parts of Italy have killed at least 17 people and razed thousands of hectares of forest, destroying 14 million trees.

Areas across the country have been affected by the storms this week, which created landslides in the northern regions of Trentino and Veneto before moving south over the weekend.

Nine people from two families were also killed on the island of Sicily after a river burst its banks and flooded a house outside Palermo.

State TV broadcaster RaiNews24 said the sole survivor of the flood was the owner, who had just stepped outside to walk the family dogs Saturday when the storm struck.

A man's body was also found on a guardrail along a Palermo road after floodwaters swept away his car, according to reports.

In another part of the island, the fire department said divers were working to recover the bodies of two people swept away while driving on a road near the flooded Saraceno River.

A spokesperson from Italy’s Civil Protection Agency said on Saturday that 17 deaths related to severe weather had been reported to the agency so far, excluding the 12 fatalities in Sicily.

Three-quarters of Venice flooded as six die in storms across Italy

A German tourist died on Friday after being hit by lightning on the island of Sardinia and many people have been killed by falling trees.

The storms have destroyed around 14 million trees, according to Coldiretti, the association of Italian agricultural companies.

“We’ll need at least a century to return to normality,” Coldiretti said in a statement.

Thousands of pine trees and red spruces were destroyed in the Alps near the northern province of Belluno.

The surface of Comelico Dam near the Austrian border was covered with trees that had fallen into the Piave river.

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In the same region, three-quarters of Venice is under floodwater and many of the squares and walkways of the city have been destroyed.

The governor of Veneto, Luca Zaia, said the region’s storm damage amounted to at least a billion euros.

In a tweet on Sunday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he was leaving to visit Sicily and that he was also in touch with officials about the situation in the north of the country.

Additional reporting by agencies

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