Hurricane winds and severe storms kill 8 in France and Italy


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PARIS — Severe thunderstorms and hurricane-force winds killed at least eight people Thursday in France and Italy, uprooting trees in Tuscany and on the French island of Corsica and ripping brick shards from the famous steeple of St. Mark’s to Venise. More than 100 boats in the Mediterranean Sea called for emergency help, authorities said.

The storm produced gusts of more than 220 km/h (136 mph) in some areas, the national weather agency Météo France said. About 45,000 homes were without electricity in Corsica, where six people were killed. Dozens of people were injured and 12 were hospitalized in Corsica, including one in critical condition, authorities said.

Italy’s Tuscany and Veneto regions have both declared states of emergency as severe storms in the north contrasted with temperatures of up to 43 degrees Celsius (109 degrees Fahrenheit) in southern Italy. Italy.

Storms in recent days have hit Western European countries after a summer of extreme weatherwhile the neighbors in Central and Eastern Europe are still suffering exceptional heat wave and drought.

Two people were killed in separate incidents in Tuscany when trees were uprooted by storms on Thursday, one near the city of Lucca and another near Carrara. Four other people were injured by falling trees at a campsite near Carrara.

In Corsica, a 13-year-old girl died after a tree fell on a campsite in the coastal town of Sagone. A 72-year-old woman was killed when a beach restaurant roof fell on her vehicle in Coggia, and a 46-year-old man died at a campsite in the town of Calvi.

Rescue teams have found the bodies of a 62-year-old fisherman and an unidentified kayaker off the west and east coasts of Corsica, according to France’s maritime authority for the Mediterranean. He said both died as a result of the sudden storm and more than 100 beached, wrecked or stranded vessels in the area called for emergency help. A sixth victim was reported on Thursday evening.

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin visited the island on Thursday.

In Venice, high winds tore pieces of brick from the bell tower of St. Mark, which stands in front of the famous cathedral. Tourists were evacuated from the structure, which was cordoned off. The storm toppled chairs and tables in St. Mark’s Square and elsewhere, and swept away beach chairs on the nearby Lido.

The winds picked up suddenly and died down within five minutes, said Carlo Alberto Tesserin, the guardian of the basilica and the bell tower. “These weren’t usual winds for us,” Tesserin told The Associated Press.

In northern Italy, an overnight storm forced the closure of a train line southeast of Genoa after high winds carried beach structures onto the tracks, damaging electrical circuits.

The storm hit during Italy’s busiest beach holiday week. Mayor of Sestri Levanti, Valentina Ghio, warned that whirlpools were possible and called on visitors to stay away from the beaches until the bad weather has passed.

Hail the size of a walnut hit Italy’s Liguria region with enough force to smash house windows and damage orchards and gardens.

As northern Italy suffered its worst drought in decades this year, heavy rains in recent days that brought scattered hailstorms, whirlwinds and floods damaged or destroyed entire crops of fruit and vegetables as well as vineyards and olive groves, according to Italian agricultural lobby Coldiretti. .

Thunderstorms Wednesday the flooded Paris metro stations and the Old Port of Marseille, and the winds more than 100 km/h (60 mph) was recorded at the top of the Eiffel Tower during a flash flood on Tuesday.

The heavy rains come amid a summer of drought, heatwaves and wildfires across Europe that scientists link to human-caused climate change.

Yet to the east, on the great plain of southern Hungary, shepherd Sandor Kalman can only dream of rain. He grazes sheep on land parched by intense heat and low rainfall. As he walks through his pastures, the grass — stained with large patches of dry dust and sand — crunches under his boots.

“In this heat wave, this clay soil is burning the sheep’s feet, it’s so hot,” he said, adding that his sheepdogs are also struggling to walk on the parched earth. “I’m 57, but I’ve never seen such a severe drought.”

This year’s Hungarian weather data shows the most severe lack of rainfall since 1901.

Water levels in the Danube, one of Europe’s largest waterways, have dropped 1.5 meters in three weeks near Budapest, leading the regional water company to warn that water supplies drinking water could be at risk.

“The future is difficult to predict, but forecasts and climate models suggest further severe droughts are likely,” said Klara Kerpely of environmental group WWF Hungary, warning that officials will need to prepare for more frequent extreme weather. and rework Hungary’s water retention system.

Barry reported from Milan. Bela Szandelszky in Budapest and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed.

Follow AP’s coverage of climate and environmental issues at https://apnews.com/hub/climate-and-environment

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