10 killed in Italy as wild weather sweeps Europe

A man walks through debris between two yachts in Rapallo, near Genoa, after a storm hit the harbour
A man walks through debris between two yachts in Rapallo, near Genoa, after a storm hit the harbour
Image: AFP

The death toll from fierce storms battering Italy has risen to 10, civil protection authorities said on Tuesday, as wild weather swept parts of Europe, leaving motorists and tourists stranded.

Roads were blocked and thousands of people were left without power in southern and central Europe, as rains and violent winds sparked flooding, tore trees from their roots and whipped debris into the air.

Thick snow has also cloaked French and Italian mountain regions, trapping hundreds of drivers in their cars and tourists in hotels.

In Italy, where Venice was inundated by near-record flooding and ferocious storms drove high winds reaching up to 180km/h in some areas, civil protection authorities announced a further five deaths, after confirming five people died on Monday.

Authorities reported on Tuesday a woman had died when her home was engulfed by a mudslide in the northern region of Trentino, a man was killed in the northeastern region of Veneto by a falling tree, and a firefighter died during relief operations in South Tyrol.

Elsewhere, a man died while kitesurfing on Monday near the town of Cattolica on the Adriatic coast, after strong winds had blown him into rocks.

The body of a man was also recovered on Tuesday in Lake Levico in the north, the fire department said.

A man is also missing at sea off Calabria in the southwest after his boat was discovered washed up on rocks.

Italian media reported that about 170 people, tourists and hotel staff, were stranded by heavy snowfall at the Stelvio Pass on the Swiss border.

Meanwhile, in Friuli, Venezia Giulia, authorities said about 23,000 people were without power.

In France, more than 1,000 drivers were trapped in their cars for the night in the mountains of the Massif Central region as the roads were engulfed in snowstorms.

A further 400 had to spend the night in train carriages at the main station in Lyon after heavy snow blocked the tracks.

Croatia’s Adriatic coast has also been battered by galeforce winds and heavy rains that have flooded streets, cut off power and ensnared road and maritime traffic.

A Slovenian surfer has been missing since Monday in the sea off of Umag city, on the northern Istria peninsula.

In Spain, more than 100 soldiers were helping electrical repair crews to reach isolated areas of the northern region of Asturias, blanketed by heavy snowfall at the weekend.