ROME, Italy (AFP) — Floods have killed 12 people on the southern Italian island of Sicily, nine of them from the same family, rescue services said Sunday, raising the week’s toll across Italy past 30.
Six Italian regions remain on high alert for storms.
The bodies of nine people were found in their house in Casteldaccia in the Palermo region, next to a small river which had burst its banks, rescue services said. Among the victims was a one-year-old baby and children aged three and 15.
Three other members of the same family managed to escape, one of them by climbing a tree, the Agi news agency reported.
“It is an immense tragedy,” the local mayor said Sunday.
In a separate incident, a 44-year-old man was found dead in his car near Vicari, also in the Palermo region. A passenger in the car is missing.
Rescue workers are also searching for a doctor forced by the storms to abandon his car near the town of Corleone after trying to drive to work at the hospital there.
Two other people, a man and a woman, died after their car was caught in the floods in the region of Agrigente, a little further south on the island.
Troops were deployed to check the conditions of the main roads on the Mediterranean island Sunday.
Earlier this week, floods in Sicily had closed many roads and mayors ordered schools, public parks and underpasses shut.
A week of deadly storms
Italy has been hit by a series of deadly storms over the past week, especially in the north and around Venice. They have claimed more than 30 lives in all, including the Sicily deaths, and caused massive damage and disruption.
Forests in the northeast of the country were flattened like matchsticks.
Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini described the devastated territory and posted photos in a tweet Sunday after flying over the Alpine town of Belluno.
The picturesque fishing village of Portofino near Genoa, a famed holiday resort on the Italian riviera, was only reachable by sea after the main road collapsed. An emergency path opened to let residents out was deemed too dangerous.
Trees covering the mountains in the Dolomites range were reduced to matchsticks, flattened by winds that tore through the Veneto region on Thursday.
“It’s like after an earthquake,” said the governor of the Veneto region, Luca Zaia. “Thousands of hectares of forest were razed to the ground, as if by a giant electric saw.”
The canal city of Venice, on Italy’s northeast coast, has also experienced some of its worst flooding ever, as well as having to withstand winds of up to 180 kilometers an hour (110 miles an hour).
Italy’s civil protection agency has described the weather lashing the country this week as “one of the most complex meteorological situations of the past 50 to 60 years.”