Italy hit by violent storms, two killed in Tuscany

Storms wreak havoc in northern Italy.

Two people were killed in Italy's central Tuscany region on Thursday as severe storms led to multiple injuries and caused extensive damage to property across northern Italy.

The two fatalities occurred in Lucca and Carrara when a man and a woman were hit by falling trees, with around 100 people evacuated from their homes in both areas.

The presidents of Tuscany and the northern Veneto region around Venice signed regional state of emergency orders due to the severe weather, reports state broadcaster Rai News.

The storms caused widespread destruction across northern Italy, ripping off roofs, causing electricity blackouts and leading to hundreds of emergency call-outs for fallen trees, many of which hit cars and property.

There was severe storm damage and flooding in the north-west Liguria region, along the Italian riviera, with the Genoa-La Spezia rail line blocked temporarily after debris including beach huts blew onto the train tracks, news agency ANSA reports.

Milan and Florence shut their city parks due to torrential rain, and a crane was blown down on top of homes in Ferrara in the Emilia-Romagna region.

Near the city of Rovigo in the Veneto region, an elephant - frightened by the storms - escaped from a circus and made its way between stunned motorists on the busy Romea highway. The animal was given a police escort back to the circus in Rosolina, reports Corriere della Sera

In Venice strong winds blew chairs and umbrellas across the central St Mark's Square, with fragments falling off the Campanile or bell tower at the Basilica di S. Marco, reports Corriere della Sera.

The bad weather is set to continue into Friday as the head of Italy's civil protection department, Fabrizio Curcio, urges people to "follow the guidelines of the local authorities and the rules of self-protection".

The storms in Italy on Thursday coincided with severe weather conditions elsewhere in Europe, with at least six people killed in Corsica where winds reached speeds of 224 km per hour.

Photo ANSA