Seven killed in storms and wildfires as Italy divided by extreme weather

AFP/The Local
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Seven killed in storms and wildfires as Italy divided by extreme weather
A fallen tree on top of a parked car in central Milan on Tuesday after severe storms hit the city overnight. (Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP)

Seven people were killed in Italy by violent storms in the north and wildfires in the south, which could lead the government to declare a state of emergency in the hardest-hit regions.


Storms in the northern region of Lombardy claimed at least four lives, including that of a 16-year-old girl killed when a tree fell on her tent at a scout camp near Brescia during high winds and torrential rain overnight.

A 58-year-old woman died after being crushed hit by a falling tree in Lissone, north of Milan, and two 19-year-olds died in a car crash during a rainstorm in Varese.

Near Palermo airport, the bodies of two people in their 70s were found in a house destroyed by the flames, while another 88-year-old woman was found dead in the city according to media reports.

VIDEO: Sicily set for state of emergency as wildfires blaze

Sicily's regional president Renato Schifani said he planned to ask the government ahead of a Wednesday ministers' meeting to declare a state of emergency for the Mediterranean island.

Firefighters on the island continued to battle wildfires, one of which approached so close to Palermo airport that it shut down for several hours on Tuesday morning.

Italy's Civil Protection Department on Tuesday reported "extensive fires" across the south, saying air support had been requested for nine incidents in Sicily, nine in Calabria and another in Sardinia.

In the southern region of Puglia, tourists were evacuated in the areas of Vieste and San Cataldo as wildfires raged nearby.

Milan residents reported torrential rain and hail in the early hours of Tuesday morning, which flooded streets and uprooted trees, many of which fell onto parked cars.

The mayor said residents had "suffered a sleepless night" as winds "exceeded 100km per hour" in the city.


Transport authorities reported serious damage to Milan's electricity network, while an AFP journalist said water in the historic centre was temporarily shut off.

Firefighters said the situation was "very serious", reporting more than 200 calls for help across Milan since 4am on Tuesday.

Temperatures exceeded 47C in some parts of southern Italy on Tuesday before a drop to the low 30s in many areas on Wednesday.

MAP: Where are wildfires raging in Italy?

Milan mayor Giuseppe Sala said in a video published on Facebook: “What we are seeing is not normal. We can no longer deny it: climate change is changing our lives. We can't just pretend nothing happened, and above all we can’t not do anything.”


Civil Protection Minister Nello Musumeci said Tuesday had been "one of the most complicated days in recent decades - rainstorms, tornadoes and giant hail in the north, and scorching heat and devastating fires in the centre and south."

Writing on Facebook, he added: "The climate upheaval that has hit our country demands of us all... a change of attitude."


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