CASTELDACCIA, Italy – Deadly rainstorms and flooding that have swept over Italy over the past week have left a toll of 29 dead and a trail of destruction from Veneto in the north to Sicily in the south, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Sunday.
Conte, who had flown to Sicily to see on Sunday the effects of recent heavy downpours, said Italy had been hit by a tremendous misfortune.
“Our Peninsula has been plagued by particularly violent weather for weeks,” he said in Palermo.
“Seventeen people dead, many families evacuated families, whole areas destroyed,” Conte said of the devastation caused by bad weather before this weekend. “The rainfall of the last few hours, especially here in Sicily, now increases the tragic toll with 12 new deaths.”
Earlier, the mayor of the town of Casteldaccia on the northwestern coast of Sicily, near Palermo, had said that at least nine people had died in floods there.
“It’s a tragedy. We know there are nine victims, three of whom were children,” said Giovanni Di Giacinto. “Probably they weren’t even living here in Casteldaccia, they had probably rented the house and came here to have dinner all together.”
The mayor said the children were aged one, three and 15 years old.
Unconfirmed press reports said that another person had died in Vicari while two others had perished in the town of Cammarata, in the province of Agrigento on the southern coast of Sicily.
The deaths in Casteldaccia were caused when the Milicia River overflowed its banks and flooded a house there, the mayor said.
Rescue services were also combing through the nearby town of Corleone, inland of Palermo, for a doctor who was swept away when driving to the hospital where he worked, authorities said.
The car was found on a stretch of road in the municipality, but the doctor was not inside.
While Conte visited Sicily, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini was scheduled to go to the Veneto region, one of the most badly affected along with Liguria.
Intense rains and strong winds hit Italy a week ago leaving 17 dead and devastation in the regions of Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Emilia-Romagna, Calabria, Sicily and Sardinia, Conte said.
More than 50 families were evacuated from their homes after the Akragas River burst its banks in the Sicilian city of Agrigento, officials said.
Rail links between Palermo and Agrigento in Sicily, as well as Palermo and Catania, were interrupted, said the state railway company, Trenitalia.