Italy braces for more bad weather after storms kill 12

Source: Xinhua| 2018-11-01 13:39:22|Editor: Liangyu
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ROME, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- Italy on Wednesday braced for more bad weather after storms lashed the country, causing damage and claiming 12 lives in the past 48 hours.

The national Civil Protection Department warned of fresh downpours, lightning storms, hail, strong winds and sea surges beginning on Wednesday night, and issued red and orange weather alerts for Thursday over a possible loss of life and damage to infrastructure in most of the country.

Many of the 12 deaths between Monday and Wednesday were caused by falling trees or flying debris, as the storm brought from north to south gale-force winds and torrential downpours, resulting in floods, landslides, tornadoes, and tsunami-like sea surges that swept through the coastal communities.

The body of a pensioner was found Wednesday, La Repubblica newspaper reported, saying the victim went missing after going out for a walk in the bad weather near the northern city of Brescia on Monday.

A 13th person who went missing was presumed dead, as he went sailing on Sunday in heavy seas off the southern Calabria region, the newspaper added.

Among the hardest-hit areas was the northeastern Veneto region, where residents of its capital city, Venice, were seen on news footage walking through the streets in knee-high water.

Floodwater invaded the city's St. Mark's Basilica on Tuesday, damaging its precious marbles and mosaics. The iconic cathedral "aged by 20 years in a day," said one of its official caretakers.

Speaking on Facebook after a helicopter tour of affected areas on Wednesday, governor of Veneto, Luca Zaia, described scenes "of total devastation" with tens of thousands of homes left without power or running water and "entire forests that no longer exist."

The storm cost an estimated 1 billion euros (1.1 billion U.S. dollars) in damage, he said.

In Genoa, the capital city of the northwestern Liguria region, rising seas tore through low-lying villages and cities, ripping ferries from their moorings, driving entire marinas full of yachts onto dry land, and destroying seaside tourist facilities all along the coast, parts of which are a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Governor of Liguria Giovanni Toti, also speaking on Facebook Wednesday, requested a state of emergency for damage "of gigantic proportions" estimated at hundreds of millions of euros due to "the most violent weather we have experienced in the past 20 years."

Other regions, including Lazio where Rome is located and Campania, whose capital is Naples, also tried to tally the damage and clean up after the devastating storm.