Disasters & Accidents

Fierce storms blamed for 12 deaths in France, Italy, Austria

Paris/Rome/Vienna, Aug 18 (EFE).- Storms, some of them packing hurricane-force winds, swept across a wide swath of Central and Southern Europe on Thursday, leaving a dozen people dead in France, Italy and Austria.

The biggest impact was on the French island of Corsica, where five people perished and a score of others were hurt amid winds clocked at 224 km/h (139 mph).

The casualty figures are “provisional” as first responders are still in the process of locating people who have been reported missing, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told reporters during a hurriedly arranged visit.

Four of the injured people were in serious condition.

Darmanin was joined by regional president Gilles Simeoni at a campground in Le Sagone where a 13-year-old boy was killed when a tree fell on him.

Authorities are waiting for “news of all the people who were in the sea” when the storms hit, the minister said.

By late afternoon, power had been restored to 36,000 of the 47,000 households that lost electricity in what Simeoni described as “an apocalyptic scenario.”

A spokesman for emergency services told France Info radio that the government had deployed 300 professionals to search for the missing with support from a helicopter and two planes.

Authorities on the island, which is home to around 340,000 people, ordered several campgrounds evacuated in expectations of additional storms Thursday night.

The Italian government said that two people died and nearly 20 others were injured in storms that battered the northern and central parts of the peninsula.

Both of the deaths were in the Tuscany region.

A man cutting down a tree in Lucca was struck by another tree, while a woman was crushed by a falling tree on a street in Carrara.

Damage also took place in Piedmont, Liguria and Emilia-Romagna, which experienced heavy rains and winds of up to 120 km/h.

Fallen trees and flooding led to road closures and interrupted train service. In Venice, police cordoned off an area in front of Saint Mark’s Basilica after bits of the structure fell onto the square.

Austria’s ORF television reported that two children were killed and 13 other people suffered injuries as trees toppled when a thunder storm with winds of 139 km/h slammed through a park in Sankt Andrä, a town in the southern region of Carinthia.

Five of the 13 people who were hurt are also children, district Gov. Georg Fejan told a press conference.

Much of the area “looks like a battlefield,” the mayor of nearby Wolfsberg, Hannes Primus, wrote on social media.

A fallen tree was also blamed for three deaths in Gaming, located in the Lower Austria region. EFE ac-act-lsc-wr/dr

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