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Mini tornado and giant hailstones hit northern Italy as heatwave breaks

The Local Italy
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Mini tornado and giant hailstones hit northern Italy as heatwave breaks
Intense rain, hail and strong winds swept northern Italy on Thursday and Friday following days of intense heat. Photo by VALERY HACHE / AFP.

Hailstones "as big as tennis balls" battered the regions of Veneto and Lombardy while a tornado hit Milan as the intense heatwave began to retreat overnight and on Friday morning.

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Veneto's regional governor Luca Zaia said on Friday that at least 110 people had suffered injuries from giant hailstones as the northeastern region was hit by extreme weather overnight and into Friday morning.

"The hail that fell was absolutely out of the ordinary, with balls of ice that in some cases had diameters of over 10 centimetres,"  Zaia told local media.

He said people were injured either by the hail or by glass it had broken.

Firefighters in the region received hundreds of calls due to storm damage overnight, with teams in Venice, Treviso, Padua, Vicenza and Verona clearing fallen trees and other debris from roads.

In the city of Mantua in neighbouring Lombardy there were numerous reports of damage to homes and vehicles caused by hailstones "as big as tennis balls".

READ ALSO: Should you reconsider travel to Italy during a heatwave?

Heavy rain and storms were reported in and around the city of Milan, with dramatic videos of a tromba d'aria, a kind of mini tornado, shared online by residents of north-eastern neighbourhoods of the city.

Frefighters in Milan said they'd had over 100 calls related to flooding, roof damage and fallen trees on Thursday and Friday.

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The sudden storms came amid a severe heatwave that has gripped Italy for the past week, with forecasters predicting the heat would begin to break in the north from Thursday - though conditions were still hot and sticky on Friday afternoon at around 27 degrees Celsius in Milan.

In southern Italy, hot and dry conditions persisted on Friday afternoon with temperatures around ten degrees higher in many areas.

The entire country has been sweltering in temperatures well beyond the seasonal average this week as a fierce heatwave swept southern Europe.

Showers and unstable weather conditions were forecast for many parts of northern Italy over the weekend.

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