Storms wreak havoc on Adriatic coast

Orange-sized hail hurts 18 in Pescara, 200 pines down nr Ravenna

10 July, 18:53

    Giant hailstones fallen on Pescara Giant hailstones fallen on Pescara

    ROME - The Adriatic coast was hit by storms on Wednesday with many people in Pescara injured by hailstones as big as oranges and 200 historic pine trees felled near Ravenna, as well as flooding there and in many other parts of the Romagna, Marche and Abruzzo seaboards including Pescara hospital.

    At least 18 people including a pregnant woman were hurt by hailstones as big as oranges in Pescara in Abruzzo.

    The victims were taken to the town's ER unit.

    The pregnant woman suffered injuries to her face and head, ANSA sources said.

    The other people suffered bruises and other injuries, mainly to the head, and all had to have stitches.

    The hail damaged cars, smashing windscreens and windows, and roofs in the Abruzzo coastal resort.

    Streets were later flooded in Pescara as a violent rainstorm followed the hailstorm.

    Streets were "turned into rivers" at several points in the Abruzzo town, local sources told ANSA.

    As much as 10 cm of water fell in the centre of the Adriatic port city.

    In the hills above the city the road surface cracked and Mayor Carlo Masci sent an emergency team to the scene.

    Pescara's streets are "impassable" after the rainstorm and hailstorm there, Mayor Masci said.

    He said that "the phenomenon was extraordinary".

    "There was such intense rain after the extremely violent hailstorm," he said.

    "The city is impassable. Fire fighters and council workers are all in the streets, but they aren't enough to cope with the emergency.

    Masci said he had activated the municipal operational centre (COC) to handle the emergency.

    "I've already contacted the regional government to obtain a request for compensation for damage".

    Operations at the city hospital were later suspended because of flooding.

    The basements were completely flooded while the kitchen, the pharmacy and the car parks were knocked out of action.

    The water reached two metres in the car park, where dozens of cars were destroyed.

    Several people managed to save themselves after their cars were dragged away by the floodwaters.

    Divers went into action to make sure there were no people who drowned in their cars. Meanwhile in Milan Marittima, in Romagna, a woman was hurt after a storm hit the town near Ravenna.

    Trees were felled, including 200 century-old marine pines, and also road signs, billboards and other hoardings, as a tornado ripped through the town.

    The woman was taken to Cesena's Bufalini Hospital in a serious condition.

    Her condition was not said to be life threatening.

    Several streets and roads were closed in the area.

    There was widespread flooding in other coastal towns and resorts including Senigallia in Marche.

    Italy is increasingly exposed to extreme weather due to a lack of protection once provided by the Azores high, Antonello Pasini, a physician at the National research center (CNR). "Once these phenomena only occurred after August 15 because the anticyclone protected us from disrupted currents", stressed the expert.

    "Now the circulation has change, warmer anticyclones are arriving, like the Libyan one, so there aren't only more heatwaves but also more extreme events", said Pasini.

    A large fire broke out on the coast of Plaia di Catania on Wednesday prompting many beachgoers to rush into the sea.

    One beach establishment was badly damaged and others were threatened.

    Fire fighters urged people to stay on the shoreline.

    They also told them not to try to get back into their homes to leave the streets clear for fire engines to travel along, given that the flames were present on the roads too.

    Fire fighters have already activated a plan to rescue people in difficulties using boats and two helicopters.

    In the end, hundreds of people blocked by the flames on the beach were evacuated by dinghies and boats operated by firefighters and the coats guard.

    They included 40 children blocked on the Azzurro establishment and the Don Bosco campsite, who were saved by harbour master cutters.

    Forest ranger and fire service aircraft are also operating in the area.

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