October 30, 2018 / 11:12 AM / 22 days ago

Death toll rises to 11 as storms hammer Italy

ROME (Reuters) - Violent storms battered Italy for a third consecutive day on Tuesday, killing at least 11 people, and flooding much of Venice.

The lagoon city’s St. Mark’s Square remained under water for a second day while the adjacent St. Mark’s Basilica was also inundated, with its baptistery totally flooded and its historic, mosaic floors covered by 90 cm (2.95 ft) of water.

“The basilica has aged 20 years in just one day, and perhaps I am being overly optimistic about that,” said Carlo Tesserin, the church’s chief administrator.

Italian media said it was the second time this century that the basilica had been flooded, and just the fifth time it had seen such high water within the body of the cathedral in its 1,000-year history.

“It is becoming ever more difficult for us and indeed could become impossible for us to repair the damage, especially in an age of climate change,” Tesserin said.

Widespread damage was also reported in towns and cities in the north, south and center of Italy. Many of the 11 deaths were caused by falling trees as winds as strong as 150 km/h (90 mph) whipped the country.

“The basilica has aged 20 years in just one day, and perhaps I am being overly optimistic about that,” said Carlo Tesserin, the church’s chief administrator.

Italian media said it was the second time this century that the basilica had been flooded, and just the fifth time it had seen such high water within the body of the cathedral in its 1,000-year history.

“It is becoming ever more difficult for us and indeed could become impossible for us to repair the damage, especially in an age of climate change,” Tesserin said.

One of the hardest hit regions was Liguria, in the northwest.

The breakwater walls in the chic seaside resort of Rapallo were destroyed by pounding waves, allowing in a surge of water that toppled dozens of luxury yachts and inflicted heavy damage on the port area.

Local media said a yacht owned by the family of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was one of those badly damaged.

Slideshow (17 Images)

The nearby resort town of Portofino was cut off by a landslide while video showed sea water pouring through the picturesque fishing village of Vernazza further to the south.

The weather was expected to improve late Tuesday and on Wednesday, “giving the country a truce” an official from the civil protection agency told Reuters.

Meanwhile, heavy snowfall across south-central France, with up to 40 cm (16 inches) falling in some towns and villages, caused chaos on the roads and knocked out electricity to nearly 200,000 homes, authorities said on Tuesday.

Reporting by Giulia Segreti, Massimiliano Di Giorgio and Crispian Balmer; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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