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Tourists hit as freak storms lash Italy

by Chris Johnson. Published Mon 22 Jun 2009 12:49, last updated: 22/06/09
Cars tossed around by 110mph winds in Italy
Cars tossed around by 110mph winds in Italy

Freak summer storms that have been lashing Italy have affected the holidays of thousands of British tourists.

At least six people died and thousands of cars and homes were damaged as 110mph winds thunderstorms lashed the regions of Tuscany, Rome, Naples and Puglia.

The violent summer storms caused power cuts, flooding and distruction of property and crops in huge areas across central and southern Italy.

Weather forecasters said the thunderstorms with hail and high winds that have affected almost the entire country could continue until Tuesday.

Pope Benedict XVI cancelled a helicopter trip for an official visit tot he town of San Giovanni Rotondo in Puglia but made the journey by car.

The worst-affected area was around the town of Salento, south of Naples, where two victims died.

The first was an 81-year old lawyer who drowned in his car at Lecce when it was engulfed as a flash-flood inundated an underpass.

And in the village of Cavallino, near the regional capital of Salentine, a woman aged about 60 died when she was trapped in a lift in the flooded basement of an apartment block.

Two Moldovian women were drowned in the sea at Sottomarina, near Venice. when they waded into the sea to rescue heir daughters who were in apparent difficulty in water as a sudden storm erupted.

The two girls managed to reach the safety of the beach but their mothers were dragged under by strong currents and their bodies were later recovered by divers.

Tourist diving boat captain Gennaro Grillo, 47, had a miraculous escape when he was found floating in the sea clinging to part of a rubber inflatable boat after 36 hours in the water.

He was the captain of a diving charter boat who went missing in a storm off the Tuscan island of Elba.

A rescue helicopter found Grillo floating in the sea off the neighbouring island of Montechristo - 23 miles south west of where he had vanished.

Grillo had disappeared after jumping into the sea to retrieve a rubber boat in 95 mph winds on Sunday.

He was taken to hospital on Elba where doctors discribed his condition as "good".

Two men in their fifties died when an light aircraft crashed in a storm near Bologna and on the Lazio coast near Rome, a kite-surfing instructor died when he was thrown against a building in a tornado.

Families were evacuated as buildings were damaged while in Calabria tornadoes upturned cars and felled trees and billboards.

Elsewhere there was widespread flooding and landslides and many buildings were left without electricity and water supplies.





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"After the earthquake in L'Aquila, now this. My heart goes out to the charming and friendly people of Italy. Buona fortuna!!!" Tony Williams, London around 5 years, 2 months ago

 
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