Death toll rises after weekend storms across Europe


Several people were killed as devastating storms and heavy floods hit regions in France, Italy, Austria and Switzerland over the weekend, inundating homes and sweeping away cars and bridges.

Italian media on Sunday raised the death toll to seven. Five bodies had been found in on the coast in Liguria. It is believed they could have been swept into the sea by swollen rivers. One of the victims could even come from France.

Most people who had been reported missing – up to 20 at times – have been found as of Sunday, but authorities continue to warn of flood hazards.

Cities in the Piedmont region were especially hard hit, with the mayor of Limone Piemonte in the Cuneo province speaking of a “catastrophic situation” in his city overwhelmed by flooding.

In parts of north-western Italy, the amount of rainfall between Friday and Saturday hadn’t been seen in some 60 years.

In Venice, the new Mose flood defence system faced its first real test and seemed to have worked: Despite high water levels, St Mark’s Square, in the heart of the city, stayed dry.

Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro spoke of a “historic day” for the lagoon city. “In the presence of a tide that would have flooded the city … we have shown that Mose works,” he said in a statement.

South-eastern France also felt the effects of the storms, with people in the hinterland of the city of Nice cut off from the outside world. Residents were being provided food and water.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex said Saturday that the army has been deployed to help and expressed worry about “the final balance” as at least eight people were said to be missing. Late Sunday, helpers found one man dead in his car, the AFP news agency reported.

In Austria, a 4-year-old child died when she was hit by a falling tree. Heavy rains in Switzerland forced the
closure of a major motorway on Saturday.

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