Death Toll Rises to 11 as Storms Hammer Italy and Snow Blankets France

October 30, 2018 Updated: October 30, 2018

ROME—Violent storms battered Italy for a third consecutive day on Oct. 30, killing at least 11 people, and flooding much of Venice.

The lagoon city’s St. Mark’s Square remained under water for a second day while the adjacent St. Mark’s Basilica was also inundated, with its baptistery totally flooded and its historic, mosaic floors covered by 90 cm (2.95 ft) of water.

Authorities in the lagoon city of Venice had barred access to the central St. Mark’s Square, which was heavily flooded.

Widespread damage was also reported in towns and cities in the north, south, and center of Italy. Many of the 11 deaths were caused by falling trees as winds as strong as 150 km/h (90 mph) whipped the country.

The breakwater walls in the chic seaside resort of Rapallo were destroyed by pounding waves, allowing in a surge of water that toppled dozens of luxury yachts and inflicted heavy damage on the port area.

On Oct. 30, the agency declared the highest level of alert on several regions, mainly in the north, where storms were expected to continue all day.

An orange alert, the second highest on the scale, was issued for the central regions of Abruzzo and Lazio—which includes the capital Rome—where gale-force winds topped 100 kph (62 mph) on Oct. 29.

The national fire brigade said it had intervened in 7,000 cases across the country and that one of its staff had died, crushed by a tree during a rescue operation in a small town in South Tyrol.

Nonetheless, the main highways across the country were open, with closures only on secondary roads.

The weather was expected to improve from the late afternoon, “giving the country a truce” an official from the civil protection agency told Reuters.

Heavy Snowfall

Meanwhile, heavy snowfall across south-central France, with up to 16 inches falling in some towns and villages, has caused chaos on the roads and knocked out electricity to nearly 200,000 homes, authorities said Oct. 30.

The unseasonal and unexpectedly large snowstorms hit across Auverge-Rhone-Alpes and nearby regions, south and west of Lyon. TV footage showed thick blankets of snow falling across highways and in towns, with hundreds of vehicles brought to a halt.

Some 900 trucks were stranded overnight and several hundred drivers abandoned their cars to find a warm and safe place to stay the night. People posted messages on Facebook asking to be rescued. Snow plows were deployed to clear roads.

French energy distributor Enedis said 195,000 homes were without power in two central regions of the country, Limousin and Centre Val de Loire, with workers on the ground trying to re-establish connections.

Weather forecasters dismissed criticism that they had not provided warnings, saying they had been predicting for several days that bad weather could strike the area as storms and heavy rains wash across Italy and the island of Corsica.

In the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, gale-force winds of over 93 mph and torrential rains uprooted trees, grounded boats and left over 20,000 homes without electricity on Oct. 30.

A small tornado hit the southeastern town of Porto-Vecchio, France’s weather service Meteo France reported.

French authorities had called on the population to stay indoors.

 

By Giulia Segreti & Luke Baker

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