Major airport closed as wildfires now rage across Italy

Severe storms have also claimed the lives to two people across Italy this week

Oliver Pritchard-Jones
Tuesday 25 July 2023 11:02 BST
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Palermo airport shut due to raging wildfire

Wildfires closed Palermo airport in Italy on Tuesday as firefighters fought to control the raging blazes.

The Sicilian airport tweeted to say it would remain shut until 0900 GMT to give firefighters an opportunity to extinguish the fires which were also disrupting local road and rail traffic.

It came days after the island’s main airport of Catania, Italy’s fifth-biggest, was closed due to a fire in a terminal building.

It has since reopened but only for a few flights.

The news emerged as the Mediterranean country - like much of southern Europe - has been hit by scorching temperatures bringing increased risk of fires and deaths.

Yesterday, temperatures rose to 47.6 Celsius in some parts of eastern Sicily - close to a record European high of 48.8 Celsius recorded on the island two years ago.

This led the government to put 16 Italian cities on red alert.

These included Palermo and Catania, where power and water supply cuts that local officials blamed in part on the heat have been frequent in recent days.

Flames and smoke rise as a wildfire burns near the Sicilian village of Curcuraci near Messina, Italy

On Tuesday, Italy put 16 cities on red alert because of the high temperatures. These include Palermo and Catania, where power and water supply cuts that local officials blamed in part on the heat have been frequent in recent days. Meanwhile, an overnight storm in Milan tore off roofs and uprooted trees, blocking roads and disrupting overground transportation in Italy’s financial capital.

Two women were killed on Monday and Tuesday in the northern Monza and Brescia provinces after being crushed by falling trees.

“I have been through 65 summers in my lifetime... and what I am seeing now is not normal, we can no longer deny it, climate change is changing our lives,” Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala said on social media.

Elsewhere, the Mediterranean country has been battered by severe storms.

They claimed at least two lives in the north of the country when trees fell on women in separate incidents on Monday and Tuesday in the northern Monza and Brescia provinces.

Meanwhile, an overnight storm in Milan tore off roofs and uprooted trees, blocking roads and disrupting overground transportation in Italy's financial capital.

Yesterday, a Delta flight headed to New York which had taken off from Milan's Malpensa airport was seriously damaged by hailstorm and forced to land in Rome.

Italy is one of the European countries most affected by climate change, and suffered deadly floods in May.

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