ROME, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) -- Eleven of Italy's 20 regions have requested a state of emergency after deadly storms caused an estimated 3 billion euros' worth of damage last week, local media reported on Tuesday.
Beginning on Oct. 28, a massive storm front lasting several days lashed Italy with gale-force winds, tornadoes, torrential downpours, hail and electrical storms, uprooting entire forests, causing floods, landslides, blackouts, tornadoes, and tsunami-like sea surges that invaded coastal areas from North to South.
The latest casualties occurred Sunday in Sicily, where 12 people were killed, including nine members of two families with children who drowned when a river burst its banks and flooded their house, trapping them inside.
"I think total damages ... will total over three billion euros (3.4 billion U.S. dollars)," Italian news agency cited Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Danilo Toninelli as saying as he toured stricken areas on Tuesday.
Coldiretti farmers' association said the extreme weather has "heavily affected the agricultural sector, uprooting hundred-year-old olive trees, decimating forests, destroying crops, flooding fields, destroying greenhouses, and ripping the roofs off stables and rural buildings".
Also on Tuesday, ANSA quoted Civil Protection Department chief Angelo Borrelli as saying it will take years for the forests in Italy's northeastern regions, on which local economies depend, to recover from what he said was "total devastation" and Legambiente environmentalist association has called "a massacre" of trees.
Over 90 percent of Italian municipalities, or 7,275 cities and towns, are at risk of floods and landslides due to lack of prevention, illegal building, and the effects of climate change, according to Legambiente.
An example is the deaths in Sicily of the two families, which occurred in a house near the village of Casteldaccia that had been built illegally too close to the river and had been under a court order of demolition for years.
While hundreds of mourners gathered at the funeral of the two families in the Sicilian city of Palermo on Tuesday, Codacons consumer and environmental defense association announced it is reporting the mayor of Casteldaccia for "misconduct in public office" for failing to have the house demolished, as well as a class action suit against regional authorities.
Also on Tuesday, the Civil Protection Department issued an orange weather alert, meaning possible loss of life and damage to infrastructure, for the northern regions of Liguria, Lombardy, and Piedmont, and a yellow alert for the rest of Italy on Wednesday.