Severe storms in italy claimed more and more lives over the weekend. In sicily alone, floods killed more than ten people in a matter of hours.
Dramatic scenes unfolded in casteldaccia near palermo, where two families were almost completely wiped out when floodwaters from a river inundated a country house.
For a week now, the storms have had a firm grip on the country, with around 30 people dead by sunday. Because of the damage, worries are growing in the north about a difficult winter sports season.
"I myself do not know how i saved myself," said a survivor of the tragedy of casteldaccia. "I noticed that the water was entering the house". I told everyone: let’s go quickly," the ansa news agency quoted him as saying. When he opened the door, a torrent of water rolled over him and catapulted him to the roof. There he was able to hold on to a tree – and was saved.
Another man and a girl escaped with their lives because they were shopping for substitutes at the time of the disaster. But nine people – relatives of the survivors – died, including young children, just one and three years old. "It is a terrible tragedy," said the mayor of the municipality, giovanni di giacinto.
And the list of storm deaths is already long: lightning killed a german tourist on friday who was traveling with her son and husband on an island near sardinia. In the past week, people have been hit by trees, swept away by waves or buried by landslides. The images of the floods will remain with us for a long time to come.
"It’s a state of emergency that i’ve never seen before," civil defense chief angelo borrelli told the daily newspaper "la stampa". He had previously spoken of "apocalyptic" scenes in the northern province of belluno. Due to heavy rain, masses of rock and mud buried houses and roads. The force of the storm made power poles bend like blades of grass and trees fall down. It takes decades to renew the tree population, said borrelli. This increases the danger of landslides. "The forests that stopped (these) in the past are no longer there."
The agricultural association coldiretti estimates the number of fallen trees at 14 million. The fire department distributed a video of a dam whose water surface was completely covered by countless tree trunks. Media quote a mountain rescuer as saying: "to see our mountains like this is like looking into a bleeding wound"."
Hundreds of houses are damaged, the power grid has collapsed in many places – and the impending winter makes rapid cleanup an impossibility. Not to mention the rebuilding. What this means for the upcoming winter sports season is not yet clear. "The ski slopes in the dolomites remind of bombed battlefields", wrote the newspaper "la repubblica".
Interior minister matteo salvini on sunday in belluno to get a picture of the situation. He used his visit to condemn "too many years of slackness" and "salon-like environmental policies" of the previous governments – and for a new direction towards the EU commission. The government will do everything to help – he hopes that letters from brussel do not come again, saying that the government spends too much money. Rome at odds with commission over its budget plans.
Extreme mountaineer reinhold messner appealed to salvini and the rest of the government to take initiative in the fight against climate change instead of continuing to pursue "promises that are impossible to realize. In a newspaper commentary, the 74-year-old was shocked by the extreme weather conditions. Nature is surprised by the speed of climate change and "the change we are experiencing is frightening," messner wrote in la stampa. "The trees have so much time to learn, but even in a hundred years they have not managed to develop a defense for this sudden anomaly"."