Italy storms: North hit by hail and rain
From north to south, Italy has been battered by extreme weather.
After weeks of record-breaking temperatures, wildfires are raging in Sicily, with local media warning that Palermo is “encircled” by flames.
A violent storm and high winds have uprooted trees and lifted roofs off buildings in northern regions.
Some people were injured by tennis ball-sized hailstones, cars were damaged, and crops were destroyed.
In Brescia, a 16-year-old girl was killed when a tree fell on her tent, and in Lissone, north of Milan, a middle-aged woman died after being struck by a falling tree.
In Milan, torrential rain and extremely strong winds reached 100km/h (62mph) overnight in Lombardy and Veneto. There is a high risk of trees snapping off branches in public parks, local authorities warned residents on Tuesday.
The 15th-century Sforza Castle, one of the city’s main attractions, was closed to the public on Tuesday because of severe weather damage.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said the city’s mayor, Giuseppe Sala.
Mr Sala said in a Facebook video that “we can’t pretend it’s not happening and we can’t keep doing nothing.”
While a prolonged heatwave has already brought Sicily to its knees, wildfires are threatening towns and cities across the island. Catania experienced temperatures of over 47.5C (117F) on Monday.
Resorts and tourist hotspots on the island have begun evacuating their guests.
On Tuesday morning, Palermo Airport was temporarily closed to air traffic due to wildfires in the hills around it.
There have been a number of deaths caused by the fires in southern Italy. Two bodies were found charred in a house near Palermo airport, according to local media.
The fires in Sicily prevented emergency services from reaching an 88-year-old woman who fell ill.
When the flames from a wildfire reached a bedridden 98-year-old man’s home in Calabria, he died.
During a firefight in Sardinia, a firefighter suffered a stroke.
Local media reported that a firefighter was seriously injured while battling a blaze in Palermo caused by high winds.
Palermo has already seen more than 200 people seeking medical attention for smoke inhalation. The two hospitals have suspended routine appointments so that people suffering from smoke inhalation or other heat-related illnesses can be treated.
The bus network of Palermo has been suspended because of consistently high temperatures.
There are reports that some wards of the Hospital Cervello, in the north of the city, have been evacuated because of the flames.
According to the farmers’ association, Coldiretti, Sicily is facing an unprecedented catastrophe and incalculable environmental damage.
Climate change demands that we all change our ways. There are no excuses,” said Nello Musumeci, the Italian minister for civil protection.
Giorgia Meloni, Italian PM, told Italian radio RTL 102.5 that “we knew today would be the hardest day.” Extreme temperatures combined with wind make using Canadair [firefighting aircraft] impossible.
Our team is monitoring the situation minute by minute, which is very delicate.
Giulio Betti, an Italian meteorologist and climate expert, told the BBC that the unusual heatwave in the south of Italy and the storms in the north are “two sides of the same coin”.
Mr Betti says the northern regions were a perfect breeding ground for very intense storms since they were sandwiched between very fresh Atlantic air and extremely hot African air.
There is something striking about the intensity, frequency, and duration of the heatwaves this year. These have not always occurred.”
There have been requests for the government to declare a state of emergency in several regions.