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Massive floods claim 3 lives in Sardinia, rare tornado hits Catania, Italy


At least three people lost their lives while two others remain missing after severe storms hit the Italian island of Sardinia, triggering massive floods and landslides on Friday and Saturday, November 27 and 28, 2020. Meanwhile, a rare November tornado caused damage to Catania Airport in Sicily on Saturday, November 28.

Severe storms have battered Sardinia for two days in a row, causing flooding and landslides in several areas that left three people dead in Bitti and two others missing. The victims lost their lives in mudslides and raging floodwaters.

In Cagliari, strong winds downed many trees while at Poetto, the coast was completely submerged by floodwaters reaching the height of kiosks. 

As of Sunday, November 29, a red alert has been issued by the Civil Protection as officials prepared necessary precautions, warning residents door-to-door, and closing establishments from Cagliari to Olbia.

Several dams on the island had to discharge water to avoid overflowing. Residents in nearby settlements have been advised to avoid downstream areas.

"The red alert was in effect for two days in eastern Sardinia. Also for Bitti, we have alerted all the first citizens in a widespread manner," said Antonio Belloi of the Civil Protection.

"The mayor of Bitti was very prompt in his response; he managed the flood of 2013," Belloi noted. The current flooding was reminiscent of Cyclone Cleopatra that hit the region seven years ago, killing 18 people.

"Also last night he confirmed to us that he had alerted the entire population and done everything that needed to be done," he continued.

Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maoi added, "It is a time of suffering for Sardinia, but no citizens will be left alone. The national and regional rescue machine is already in motion to help those in difficulty."

Severe weather also affected Catania in Sicily as heavy rain poured all day, resulting in flooding and rescues on Saturday.

The storm system produced a damaging tornado in the Catania airport area.

Initial reports showed that it caused damage to homes, billboards, and several vehicles. However, the full extent of the damage is yet to be reported.

According to InMeteo, the tornado was likely in the EF-2 category, which means the estimated wind speed is between 178 and 217 km/h (111 and 135 mph)

Tornadoes in the region are considered rare, considering Sicily's location, as well as for this time of year. 

Featured image credit: Giovanni Bua

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