Rome/Paris, 19 August 2022 (dpa/MIA) – Heavy storms in Europe’s hot summer led to at least a dozen deaths on Thursday, with the only positive being the rain’s effect on previously raging wildfires.
Two girls aged 8 and 4 were killed in southern Austria after several trees fell at a lake in the province of Carinthia, where 11 other people were injured, some seriously. Three people were killed by a falling tree further north in Lower Austria.
In the states of Styria, Carinthia and East Tyrol, trains were brought to a standstill after the rail power supply failed due to the storms, the Austrian Federal Railways said, with some roads also blocked by trees.
Six people have died on the island of Corsica, French officials said.
A 13-year-old girl was hit by a tree at a campsite in Sagone on the west coast of the island.
Further south, a 72-year-old woman died after the roof of a beach hut fell on her vehicle.
A woman in a kayak and a fisherman were also found dead while French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, who visited Corsica following the storms, announced another two deaths and at least 20 injured.
Darmanin said that winds had been gusting at up to 200 kilometres per hour across the island.
“My thoughts are with the victims and those affected. The state is at their side,” he tweeted.
French President Emmanuel Macron has set up a crisis team at his holiday resort on the Côte d’Azur on the mainland, including Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne.
Corsican officials said in a statement that the storms had left 45,000 people without power.
Violent storms also tore through other parts of France, with streets in Marseille and nearby Cassis under water, videos showed.
In the Italian region of Tuscany, two people died amid severe storms, media reported.
A man and a woman were hit by falling trees.
A weather warning had been issued for the entire north of Italy and swathes of central Italy due to the heavy wind and rain.
The regional president of Tuscany, Eugenio Giani, posted a video on Twitter of a Ferris wheel spinning wildly in the wind in the city of Piombino, with pictures of cars hit by trees also emerging on social media.
Firefighters recorded more than 150 operations across the regions of Liguria and Tuscany. The central Emilia-Romagna region was also severely hit by the storms.
The extreme weather damaged buildings and caused local power outages in some areas.
Europe has been dealing with extreme weather all summer, which experts say is influenced by climate change.
While forest fires are burning in southern areas of Italy, such as Sicily and the island of Pantelleria, the north of the country is now suffering the heavy storms after a prolonged drought.
Spain, like France, has also been ravaged by wildfires but the rain has at least meant the flames in the region of Valencia have been brought under control.
Around 2,000 people were previously evacuated from their homes amid the fires but some are now able to return, Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia and national television broadcaster RTVE reported.
The European Union is experiencing the worst forest fires at this time of the year since joint records started in 2006, the European Commission said.