In Italy, scenes of chaos after violent storms

In Italy, scenes of chaos after violent storms

On the quays of St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy, vendors collect goods from stalls damaged by the storm that hit the north of the peninsula on August 18, 2022.  On the quays of St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy, vendors collect goods from stalls damaged by the storm that hit the north of the peninsula on August 18, 2022. ANDREA MEROLA v EPO

Torn roofs, uprooted centuries-old pines, hundreds of sun loungers and parasols strewn on the beaches, the violent storms that swept through western and central Italy sometimes left a desolate landscape and ended the tourist season of many beachgoers. Overall, the violent storms that swept across the northern half of the peninsula early in the afternoon on Thursday, August 18, left at least two dead and fifty injured.

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Tuscany is the region that has suffered the most. The depression formed as it neared the coast in the province of Livorno (west), before meeting the Apuan Alps in the Carrara region and then continuing its course in the countries further north. The wind gusts, which reached 150 kilometers per hour in places, were accompanied by heavy rain and at times impressive hailstorms. Symbol of this violence, the Tuscan port of Piombino, opposite the island of Elba, where the wheel of an amusement park was shaken like a rattle and the booths were thrown in all directions. Pictures from this episode quickly made the rounds on social media.

Vaporetti stationary

In Florence, the city’s mayor signed an executive order ordering the closure of public parks and gardens until at least Saturday due to the risk of falling trees. The President of the Region of Tuscany, Eugenio Giani, has called for a state of emergency to be declared. Its counterparts in Liguria on the west coast and in Emilia-Romagna further to the northeast could do the same in the coming hours.

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There were also chaotic scenes in Venice. Around 1 p.m. the storm hit the entire lagoon violently. The vaporetti were stopped in the canals. On St. Mark’s Square, the curtains flew away under the force of gusts and downpours. The force of the wind even damaged the campanile on the famous square, which culminates almost 100 meters high. In Rome, a crisis team was opened at the civil defense headquarters on Thursday evening to coordinate the rescuers’ operations and assess the damage. She has already warned of other severe weather events that are expected to hit central and southern Italy on Friday, August 19.

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The peninsula was hit by these violent storms, while the summer, like many countries in the Mediterranean basin, was also punctuated by numerous fires. In the last few hours, the most spectacular has engulfed dozens of hectares of pine forests on the island of Pantelleria off Sicily before finally being brought under control by firefighters. In Palermo, it is a city dump that has been engulfed in flames in the last few hours.

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