Three killed, one missing in storms

75% of central Venice flooded

(ANSA) - Rome, October 29 - Three people were killed and one missing as storms battered Italy on Sunday and Monday, leading Venice vaporetto services to be suspended as a big 'acqua alta' hit the lagoon city, submerging three quarters of the historic centre.
    Two people were killed when a tree hit a car they were travelling in near Frosinone south of Rome.
    The pair were killed when high winds felled the tree at Castrocielo, the Red Cross told the civil protection department.
    A 21-year-old man from a town near Caserta was killed by a tree felled by high winds in Naples.
    The man was walking in Via Claudio, in the Fuorigrotta district of the southern Italian city.
    He was rushed to hospital but died there.
    A Turkish website manager was missing after a storm-tossed sailboat was smashed against a pier in Calabria on Sunday.
    He was the owner of the Canadian-flagged vessel, from which others may be missing.
    Six regions are on red alert due to the wave of storms, torrential rain and gales that is battering Italy.
    The regions on maximum alert are Lombardy, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Liguria, Trentino-Alto Adige and Abruzzo, with gusts of wind reaching 100km/h in some cases. Schools in many cities, including Rome, were closed on Monday due to the extreme weather. Rome's civil protection office on Monday told residents to restrict their movements to the strictly indispensable because of bad weather.
    They said this was due to the probable worsening of conditions over the coming hours and the need to allow rescue vehicles to travel freely.
    Falling trees and branches injured two people in Milan, destroyed a car in Rome and caused disruption to the B line of the Rome metro and rail links to the Roman seaside district of Ostia. The highway and railway at the Brenner Pass have reopened after being closed late on Sunday due to a landslide in the area of the Italian-Austrian border.
    Vehicles on the Milan-Bologna A1 highway had to be escorted due to flooding. Ground-floor shops and homes in the centre of the Ligurian town of Levanto were evacuated.
    Winds of up to 130 km/h are whipping across Liguria and a swell of the River Magra is expected between Vezzano Ligure and Arcola as storms continue to hit the region.
    The scenic Cinque Terre was being lashed by heavy rain and high winds.
    A road collapsed due to heavy rains at Ovaro in Friuli on Monday.
    Rain is continuing to lash the northeastern Italian region.
    The Civil Protection Department said the foul weather is expected to peak on Monday afternoon in southern and central Italy, although there will also be big storms in the north. At the weekend a businessman and three workers were killed in a landslide while doing emergency work on a sewer system in the Crotone area after bad weather there.
    The first big high water of the autumn hit Venice Monday and sirens blared across the lagoon city as the 'acqua alta' passed the 110 cm above sea level mark at which citizens are alerted to the phenomenon.
    The water level was measured at 156 cm above sea level, with some 75% of the centre under water, local officials said.
    The high water level halted vaporetto services.
    Links to the lagoon islands are the only ones still being run, while buses are also running.
    The rail service between Venice and the mainland is also running regularly.
    The last vaporetti picked up stranded passengers.
    Levels of 100-120 cm above sea level are fairly common in the lagoon city and Venice is well-equipped to cope with its rafts of pontoon walkways.
    But anything much above 120cm risks swamping the city and washing the walkways away.
    The high-water threat has been increasing in recent years as heavier rains have hit northern Italy, weather experts say.
    Scientists have conceived various ways of warding off the waters since a dramatic 1966 flood, and a system of moveable flood barriers called MOSE is being installed after years of rows.
    Experts say there are three main reasons for high water in the city: the rising floor in the lagoon caused by incoming silt; the undermining of the islands by the extraction of methane gas in the sea off Venice; and the overall increase in sea levels caused by global warming.