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Hurricane-force winds, widespread floods hit Italy

italy-storm-flood-tornado-october-2018

At least 11 people have been killed and many injured after severe storms produced heavy rain and strong winds across Italy on October 29 and 30, 2018, causing widespread floods and damage. Some of the worst affected areas are on the west coast, particularly in Liguria. Many people were evacuated due to increased river levels across the country.

Winds up to 180 km/h (112 mph) were reported in parts of Italy on October 29, 2018, and blamed for the deaths of at least 6 of the 11 killed people. Trees were downed from the country's north down to capital Rome and further south to Naples. 

A violent tornado raged through the city of Terracina, south of Rome, for about 10 minutes during the afternoon hours of October 29, forcing residents to run for cover, seriously damaging numerous homes and buildings and leaving at least one person killed and dozens injured. The city center was brought to its knees, local media said. It was one of the two reported tornadoes in the city on October 29.

As much as 75% of Venice was flooded on the same day after the water level reached 156 cm (5.1 feet) above average sea level, the fourth highest level ever recorded in the city and the highest since December 2008. In 1966, when floods swept through the country, the waters reached 194 cm (6.3 feet).

Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said a series of underwater barriers (Project Mose) that are being erected in the lagoon would have prevented the inundation. However, the project is long overdue, beset by cost overruns and corruption scandals.

Veneto regional governor Luca Zaia says flooding could reach the levels of the 1966 flood that struck both Venice and Florence. In a message on Instagram, he called off schools in the region for a second day on Tuesday, October 30.

The outer breakwater wall in Rapallo, Liguria was destroyed as its reinforced concrete crumbled, causing damage to some of the vessels. Italian news agency ANSA described the event in Rapallo as 'massacre of yachts.' At least 19 people had to be rescued in and around Rapallo.

At least 4 people, a local entrepreneur and three workers, were submerged by a pile of earth and mud on October 28 while working on a sewage pipe amid torrential rain on a private property near the city of Crotone in Calabria.

Strong winds and rain continued on October 30, and meteorologists are warning that the bad weather will continue.

Featured image: Severe wind damage after severe thunderstorms in Terracina, Italy on October 29, 2018. Credit: Rete Meteo Amatori

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