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Christmas storms batter Italy

Mudslides, avalanches cause injuries, disruption

26 December, 14:54
Christmas storms batter Italy (ANSA) - Rome, December 26 - A wave of Christmas storms continued to batter Italy on Thursday after causing deaths and major damage in France, Britain and Spain.

High winds, heavy rain and snow in many northern areas caused transport disruption and a series of injuries.

A 24-year-old skier is in a critical condition after being swept up by an avalanche in the mountains of Bardonecchia near Turin.

A thick covering of snow and gale-force gusts led to power cuts in the Alpine resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo and several other towns in the area, with the situation complicated by the fact that many local roads were impossible to use.

Indeed, around 20 people trapped in eight cars by the snow were rescued early on Thursday after spending the night in their vehicles. Over 70 technicians from energy company Enel started work early on Thursday to try to restore electricity supplies in the area. The wave of bad weather, which took grip in Italy in earnest on Christmas Day, also led to landslides in Lombardy, the region around Milan. An 18-year-old boy and his 16-year-old female friend required assistance after being injured and trapped in a car in one of these landslides at Bellagio.

Two families had to be evacuated from their homes in Premana, near Lecco, after a mudslide covered part of the town.

The bad weather caused many rail services to be interrupted, including connections between Italy and Switzerland, which were suspended for around nine hours early on Thursday.

Ferry links were hit too, with several Sicilian islands and others in the Bay of Naples temporarily cut off from the mainland due to dangerous sailing conditions that were forecast to get worse. Torrential rain contributed to Venice being inundated by Acqua alta, or high water, floods of 115cm above the usual level at one point on Thursday. Acqua alta in Venice frequently occurs when strong winds and rain combine with astronomical tides that are connected with the movements of the moon to raise water levels and cause flooding.

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