Deadly storms lash Italy leaving Venice afloat

Oct 30, 2018, 09:16 IST | AFP

Two people were killed when a tree fell on their car not far from Rome, and a young man in the Naples region also died after being hit by a falling tree, according to authorities

Deadly storms lash Italy leaving Venice afloat
People walk on a footbridge in the flooded St. Mark's Square during a high-water (Acqua Alta) alert in Venice. Pic/AF

At least three people died Monday in Italy as fierce winds and rains lashed much of the country and caused waters in the canal-ringed city of Venice to reach historic high levels. Two people were killed when a tree fell on their car not far from Rome, and a young man in the Naples region also died after being hit by a falling tree, according to authorities.

In Venice, rain-soaked tourists were barred from an inundated St. Mark's Square where local authorities said the "acqua alta" (high water) peaked at 156 centimetres (61 inches) by early afternoon, the elevated wooden platforms, usually placed on main passageways in the Renaissance city were not enough to ensure safe passage in the low-lying square.

Families carried children on their shoulders through the surrounding streets. While some tourists donned thigh-high wellies, others had opted to take off their shoes and wade through the water. The waters have only topped 150 centimetres five times before in recorded history.

In 1966, when floods swept through the country, famously devastating Florence's historic centre, the waters reached 194 centimetres in Venice. Nearly all of northern Italy was on alert due to the violent storms with wind gusts up to 100 kilometres per hour and the rainfall in some places equivalent to the amount of rain that falls over several months.

Luca Zaia, head of the Veneto region, said he was worried that the situation could be worse than the huge floods in 2010. "The ground is already saturated with water, the rivers are full and due to sirocco (a strong hot wind from Northern Africa), the sea is not absorbing (the waters), he said. In the north all the schools in Veneto were closed as well as in Genoa and Rome.

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