ITALY: Three elderly individuals were killed in flames in Sicily, southern Italy, due to strong storms and a heatwave. A couple in their 70s were found dead in their burned-out home outside Palermo. A woman in her late 80s also died due to nearby fires.
Renato Schifani, the president of Sicily, posted a statement on Facebook overnight claiming that Tuesday had been “one of the most difficult days in decades” due to “scorching heat and unprecedented devastating fires.”
Firefighters in Italy reported fighting over 1,400 fires between Sunday and Tuesday, including 650 in Sicily and 390 in Calabria, the southernmost part of the peninsula where a bedridden 98-year-old man died when his home was destroyed by fire.
Fires continue to rage in hills near Palermo, despite Canadair planes resuming efforts. A severe summer heatwave scorched the Mediterranean, causing catastrophic fires. Sicily, a popular tourist destination, experienced nearly complete closure of its main airport in Catania due to a terminal fire. Palermo Airport was also closed briefly due to a neighbouring wildfire.
Nello Musumeci, the minister of civil protection, told a newspaper that he hoped the tourist traffic in the fire-affected areas wouldn’t suffer any losses. The minister stated that risk is understandable.
Later on Wednesday, the cabinet was scheduled to meet in Rome to implement a special programme for workers most at risk from the heat wave and to proclaim a state of emergency in areas impacted by natural disasters.
Italy’s north faces strong storms, claiming the lives of two people, including a 16-year-old girl scout, while the south faces wildfires. The government’s “red alert” list for the heatwave has dropped to only Catania and Bari in southern Puglia, suggesting temperatures are cooling off.