Children killed as storms sweep across Europe

Powerful storms have battered areas of central and southern Europe, killing at least 12 people including three children.

The deaths, most from falling trees, were reported in Italy and Austria, and on the French island of Corsica.

Heavy rain and winds wrecked campsites on the island, while in Venice, Italy, masonry was blown off the bell tower of St Mark’s Basilica.

The storms follow weeks of heatwave and drought across much of the continent.

In Corsica, winds gusting up to 224 km/h (140mph) uprooted trees and damaged mobile homes.

Authorities there said a 13-year-old girl was killed by a falling tree on a campsite.

A 46-year-old man died in a similar incident and a woman in her 70s was killed when her car was hit by the detached roof of a beach hut.

Two other people, a fisherman, 62, and a female kayaker, 60, died out at sea.

Interior Minister, Gérald Darmanin, who arrived in Corsica on Thursday, said 20 people had been injured – four of them seriously.

Almost 13,000 people were evacuated from several campsites on Thursday evening and sheltered in public buildings, ahead of more expected damage. But authorities said on Friday morning that the night had passed without any major incidents.

Extreme storms have become more frequent recently because of climate change.

Witnesses to the storms said they had been completely unexpected and no warning was given.

“We have never seen such huge storms as this, you would think it was a tropical storm,” restaurant owner, Cedric Boell, told Reuters news agency.

On the French mainland, some southern areas were hit by power cuts and streets were flooded in the country’s second city, Marseille.

In Austria, two girls aged four and eight were killed by a falling tree near a lake in Carinthia.

Later, three women were reported to have died in Lower Austria province, also as a result of a falling tree.

Officials said 13 people had been injured, including five children.

Hannes Primus, mayor of the Wolfsberg district, where the two girls were killed, said the area has been left looking “like a battlefield”.

Meanwhile in Italy, a man and a woman were killed by falling trees in separate incidents in the region of Tuscany. -Reuters

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