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Italy floods: Mediterranean hurricane leaves Sicily submerged – One dead

Sicily: Flooding leaves scenes of devastation in Scordia

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Fierce storms battered southern Italy for a second day on Monday, killing at least one person, triggering landslides, and leaving roads and fields flooded, police said. The body of a 67-year-old man was recovered in a citrus grove, far from where he was last seen after his car got hit by rising waters and mud, southwest of the Sicilian city of Catania. His wife is still missing, emergency services said. Italian weather site said parts of Sicily and the adjacent toe of Italy, Calabria, were being pounded by a rare Mediterranean hurricane, known as a Medicane, with winds expected to gust up to 120 kmph (75 mph) later on Monday.

The farmers’ association in Sicily said in a statement that more than 300 mm (11.8 inches) of rain fell near Catania in just a few hours on Sunday – nearly half the average annual rainfall on the Mediterranean island.

The Civil Protection emergency relief body issued its highest red alert for the northern tip of Sicily and southern Calabria on Monday.

There is a warning of potential risk to life and damage to property in those areas.

Schools were closed in a number of towns and cities, dozens of flights were diverted from the area, and ferry links between the southern islands were cancelled.

BBC Weather’s Sarah Keith-Lucas said: “Slow-moving low pressure in the central Mediterranean has already brought heavy rain and flooding problems to the far south of Italy, Sicily, Malta as well.

“It’s not going to be moving anywhere in a hurry.

“Similar areas are going to see a heavy downpour on Wednesday particularly for the likes of Sicily, Malta, and further eastwards in southern and western parts of Greece as well.”

On Thursday, low pressure is set to remain in the area.

Radio 5 Live weather report interrupted by barking dog

The flooding comes just two months after Venice faced a rare summer flooding as Piazza San Marco was up to a metre of water overnight.

The lagoon city is often hit by so-called “acqua alta” (high water) in autumn and winter, and devastating floods in November 2019 caused hundreds of millions of euros of damage.

Venice’s high water incidents are caused by a combination of factors exacerbated by climate change – from rising sea levels and unusually high tides to land subsidence that has caused the ground level of the city to sink.

A long-delayed flood barrier was deployed for the first time last October, but it is only activated to block the most potentially damaging tides of more than 130 cm (4 ft 3 inches)and so did not enter into operation.


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Defying the naysayers, a flood barrier has protected Venice from a high tide for a second time, rising up from the lagoon floor on October 14 as strong winds started to push water into the city.

The system of 78 floodgates, known as Mose, had a successful first outing in early October and showed its mettle again, saving Venice from a tide that officials had predicted would reach 135 cm (4.43 ft). At that level, roughly half the city would normally be left underwater.

The local tidal authority said on Twitter the tide rose as high as 141 cm in areas not protected by Mose, while in Venice it was just 52 cm, leaving the squares and alleyways clear.

Venice’s floods, “acqua alta” (high water) in Italian, are caused by a combination of factors exacerbated by climate change – from rising sea levels and unusually high tides to land subsidence that has pushed down the city ground level.

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