Italy storm kills at least 11 people and destroys luxury yachts as 10-foot waves smash into coastal cities

‘Fifth worst flood in recorded history’ hits Venice as regions across country count cost of devastation

Video shows extent of damage to luxury yachts after huge storm hits Italy

At least 11 people have died as fierce winds and heavy rain combined with flooding and landslides across Italy.

Coastal areas were worst hit, with 10-foot waves throwing yachts on to the shore like toys and leaving three-quarters of Venice underwater.

Most of the deaths were due to trees falling on pedestrians and cars, according to local reports.

In Trento, northeast Italy, a woman was killed when a landslide hit her home, and a windsurfer was killed after being thrown against rocks on the east coast in Emilia Romagna.

Other fatalities occurred in Liguria, in Italy’s northwest; Lazio, the central region including Rome; Naples, in the country’s southwest; and Veneto in the northeast, where authorities found the body of a 61-year-old man who had been swept more than a kilometre (half a mile) away from his car.

In Venice, a storm surge brought the worst flooding in a decade and tourists were barred from St Mark’s Square as local authorities said the “acqua alta” (high water) peaked at 156cm.

The waters have only topped 150cm five times before in recorded history.

“It was the perfect storm during which adverse meteorological conditions contributed to the situation in the sea and winds,” civil protection chief Angelo Borrelli said.

The mosaic floors inside St Mark’s Basilica were reportedly damaged where Monday’s flood waters reached a peak of 90cm.

The bronze metal doors and columns were also affected, in what the church confirmed was the fifth worst flood in its 924-year history.

First procurator Carlo Alberto Tesserin, who is charged with the basilica’s preservation, said the church “aged 20 years in one day”. He said parts of the building near the main entrance were under water for 16 hours.

Silvio Berlusconi’s son Pier’s yacht was among those damaged in the harbour at Rapallo

Footage taken at Rapallo bay, near Genoa, shows huge luxury yachts damaged after being driven ashore. Some were half sunk, while others had crashed on to the shore in shreds, surrounded by debris.

The damage happened after a harbour break wall crumbled under the pressure from the waves, allowing the surge to come through, AFP reported.

“It was like a tsunami,” one port worker was quoted as saying.

“We thought the danger would come from the mountains, we thought the problem would be landslides,” added the president of Liguria, Giovanni Toti.

“Instead, we get a coastal storm surge the likes of which we’ve never seen,” he said.

Luxury supercars burn in major fire at Italian port of Savona

In the port of Savona hundreds of luxury cars are said to have been burned after salt water from floods caused car batteries to explode and catch fire on Monday night. Several hundred new Maseratis were stored at the terminal ready for export to the Middle East.

Heavy snowfall across western Europe has also affected northern Italy. Around 170 people, tourists and hotel staff were reportedly stranded by heavy snowfall at the Stelvio Pass on the Swiss border.

Agencies contributed to this report

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