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CLIMATE CRISIS

Death toll rises to 11 in Italy’s flash floods

The toll from storms that drenched Italy and sparked major flooding in the centre of the country has risen to 11, with two people still missing, authorities said on Saturday.

Death toll rises to 11 in Italy's flash floods
An ambulance rides past a damaged car following an overnight rain bomb in Sassoferrato, Ancona province. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI/AFP

The storms hit on Thursday evening, with more than 400 millimetres (16 inches) of rain falling in some places in just a few hours.

“Searches are ongoing for the two missing,” said a statement from police in Ancona. Local press reports said the two were an eight-year-old child and a 56-year-old woman.

Across the area around Ancona, the port capital of the central eastern Marche region, streets were turned into rivers, cars swept into piles by the floodwaters, furniture washed out of homes and thick mud left everywhere.

More rain was expected in the area on Saturday, with authorities urging people to stay at home.

“Leave the ground floors of your homes and take shelter in the upper floors,” the mayor of Senigallia, Massimo Olivetti, said.

The deadly storms hit just days before the September 25 general elections in the country.

Italy has been hit by severe drought this year, followed by violent end-of-summer storms, and many have drawn the link with climate change — a subject which had taken a back seat during the election campaign.

This summer’s drought, the worst in 70 years, drained the Po River, Italy’s largest water reservoir.

The baking heat has in recent weeks been followed by storms, the water flooding land rendered hard as concrete.

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WEATHER

‘Winter is starting’: Italy braces for snow and storms as cold snap arrives

Northern Italy woke to freezing temperatures on Friday while Vesuvius was dusted with snow as long-delayed winter weather arrived in Italy.

‘Winter is starting’: Italy braces for snow and storms as cold snap arrives

A cold front arriving from northern Europe brought temperatures as low as minus 18 degrees Celsius in the eastern Alps in the early hours of Friday, while minus 14 was recorded in Garfagnana, and minus 5 in Milan, Turin and inland Sicily.

Snow also fell at higher altitudes in the south overnight, with local residents capturing images of Vesuvius covered in a dusting of snow.

“Winter is starting,” Claudio Cassardo, climatologist at the University of Turin, told newspaper La Repubblica on Friday.

“We will return to normal seasonal temperatures. However, we’re no longer used to the cold and snow”.

While the north in particular shivers in freezing temperatures and snow was forecast for many areas, including at lower altitudes, central and southern regions were warned to expect heavy rain and stormy conditions from Friday and into the weekend.

Italy’s Department for Civil Protection issued a lower-level alert for storms on Friday in parts of five southern Italian regions, including Basilicata and Calabria, and a medium-level amber alert for Campania, where the agency warned of a risk of hailstones and flash floods.

Showers, strong winds and thunderstorms are expected to spread further across the centre-south and to the Adriatic coast by Saturday, when temperatures are again forecast to drop below zero in inland parts of the centre and north.

Weather website Meteo3B predicted temperatures would drop to 0-1 C across much of the north overnight and in the early morning on Saturday.

Forecasts showed the mildest temperatures in the coming days would be in the southeastern region of Puglia and along the southern coasts of Sicily and Calabria, where a steady 8-10 degrees Celsius is expected over the weekend.

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