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Death toll from storms climbs to 13 including three children across France, Italy and Austria

A British woman is among the 13 dead after violent thunderstorms and hurricane-force winds ripped across France, Italy and Austria.

The tourist, who was in her 60s, was swept away by raging torrents in front of her husband while kayaking on Thursday morning.

He managed to find shelter, but his wife’s lifeless body was seen floating in water close to the city of Bastia that afternoon.

‘She was declared dead after emergency services tried to rescue her,’ said an investigating source.

The extreme weather produced 140mph gusts, leaving 45,000 households without power on the French island, where five others were killed including a teenage girl crushed by a tree and an elderly woman smacked by a beach hut roof.

Rescue crews found the bodies of a 62-year-old fisherman and an unidentified kayaker off Corsica’s west and east coasts, according to the French maritime authority for the Mediterranean. It said both died as a result of the sudden storm and that more than 100 grounded, wrecked or stranded ships in the area have called for emergency help. 

A 46-year-old man died in a campsite in the town of Calvi and a sixth victim was reported late Thursday. 

Two people were killed in separate incidents in Tuscany when trees were ripped up by storms Thursday, one near the city of Lucca and another near Carrara. Another four people were injured by falling trees at a campground near Carrara. 

In Austria, two girls, aged four and eight, were killed when sudden strong winds toppled trees at a lake in Lavant Valley, near the southern city of Graz.

Corsica has been hit by a very violent storm which left at least six dead, dozens injured, and wreaked havoc across the island

Brenches and fallen trees are seen near Lake St. Andraer after a severe storm hit in Lavanttal, southern Austria, where five have been killed

Brenches and fallen trees are seen near Lake St. Andraer after a severe storm hit in Lavanttal, southern Austria, where five have been killed

A parasol lies on the ground on the terrace of the Eden bar at Piazza San Marco in Venice amid the violent storms across Europe

A parasol lies on the ground on the terrace of the Eden bar at Piazza San Marco in Venice amid the violent storms across Europe

A 13-year-old girl was killed in a camping site (pictured) when a tree fell in Sagone on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica

A 13-year-old girl was killed in a camping site (pictured) when a tree fell in Sagone on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica

Witnesses of the storm, which wrecked campsites, delayed trains and uprooted trees, said they had never seen anything like it on the island

Witnesses of the storm, which wrecked campsites, delayed trains and uprooted trees, said they had never seen anything like it on the island

Officials said 13 people were injured, two of them seriously.

Many of the victims were tourists visiting the popular tourist region.

Austrian President Alexander Van Der Bellen called the children’s deaths ‘an unfathomable tragedy’.

The mayor of the nearby town of Wolfsberg, Hannes Primus, said the area looked ‘like a battlefield’.

In Lower Austria, three women were killed when lightning struck a tree near the central town of Gaming, causing it to fall over.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he had called an emergency government meeting by video conference on Thursday evening to respond to the crisis.

Visiting Corsica, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said that at one point about 350 people had been reported missing as pleasure boats had capsized or been thrown adrift, but he added they had now all been found alive and well.

Heavy rain and winds lash the Mediterranean island of Corsica during a deadly storm in Calvi

Heavy rain and winds lash the Mediterranean island of Corsica during a deadly storm in Calvi

French President Emmanuel Macron said he had called an emergency government meeting by video conference on Thursday evening to respond to the crisis

French President Emmanuel Macron said he had called an emergency government meeting by video conference on Thursday evening to respond to the crisis

The storm raged as many areas of France - which has been hit by heatwaves and severe drought - saw more rain in a few hours than in recent months combined

The storm raged as many areas of France – which has been hit by heatwaves and severe drought – saw more rain in a few hours than in recent months combined

Witnesses of the storm, which wrecked campsites, delayed trains and uprooted trees, said they had never seen anything like it on the island.

‘We have never seen such huge storms as this, you would think it was a tropical storm,’ said Cedric Boell, manager of the restaurant Les Gones Corses in northern Corsica, who saw two pleasure boats tossed on to nearby rocks.

Yolhan Niveau, 24, a wildlife photographer staying at a campsite near San-Nicolao in the northeast of the island, said the storm had torn through the site, uprooting trees and damaging mobile homes.

‘There was no warning… I don’t feel scared just stupefaction. No one expected this,’ Niveau said.

The storm raged as many areas of France – which has been hit by heatwaves and severe drought – saw more rain in a few hours than in recent months combined.

Meteo France, which said that the exact location of storms was hard to predict, had not given advance warning. It issued an alert with ‘immediate effect’ as strong winds began to hit the island.

In Marseille, streets were flooded and streams of water ran down steps in the port city, videos shared on social media showed

In Marseille, streets were flooded and streams of water ran down steps in the port city, videos shared on social media showed

In Marseille, streets were flooded and streams of water ran down steps in the port city, videos shared on social media showed

‘I was woken around 7:30 am by a very huge storm’ that knocked out both electricity and mobile phone networks, said Benjamin Roux, a 26-year-old tourist, at the beach near where the woman was killed.

He had been planning to go scuba diving, but instead helped the passengers of a boat who were sleeping aboard when it was suddenly thrown onto the shore by the waves.

‘They managed to get out without injuries, but they’re just devastated,’ he told AFP.

On France’s mainland, households were left without power after a storm hit the southern Loire and Ain departments, while in Marseille, streets were flooded and streams of water ran down steps in the port city, videos shared on social media showed.

Further north, drought has left the river Loire, famous for the chateaux along its banks, so shallow that even flat-bottomed tourist barges could barely navigate it.

In Lower Austria, three women were killed when lightning struck a tree near the central town of Gaming, causing it to fall over

In Lower Austria, three women were killed when lightning struck a tree near the central town of Gaming, causing it to fall over

Brenches and fallen trees are seen near Lake St. Andraer after a severe storm hit in Lavanttal

Brenches and fallen trees are seen near Lake St. Andraer after a severe storm hit in Lavanttal

In Austria, two girls, aged four and eight, were killed when sudden strong winds toppled trees at a lake in Lavant Valley, near the southern city of Graz

In Austria, two girls, aged four and eight, were killed when sudden strong winds toppled trees at a lake in Lavant Valley, near the southern city of Graz

The Italian regions of Tuscany and Veneto both declared a state of emergency, as the violent storms in the north contrasted with temperatures up to 43 degrees Celsius in southern Italy.

In Venice, high winds detached pieces of brick from St. Mark’s bell tower, which stands in front of the famed cathedral. 

Tourists were evacuated from the structure, which was cordoned off. The storm upended chairs and tables in St. Mark’s Square and elsewhere, and swept away beach chairs on the nearby Lido.

Winds rose suddenly and were calmed within five minutes, said Carlo Alberto Tesserin, the caretaker of the Basilica and bell tower. ‘These were not usual winds for us,’ Tesserin told The Associated Press.

In northern Italy, an overnight storm forced the closures of a train line southeast of Genoa after high winds carried beach structures onto the tracks, damaging the electrical circuitry.

The storm struck during Italy’s busiest beach vacation week. The mayor of Sestri Levanti, Valentina Ghio, warned that whirlwinds were possible and appealed to visitors to stay away from beaches until the severe weather had passed.

Two municipal police officers guard the exit from the bell tower of San Marco, from where fragments of the bricks of the tower broke off due to the storm

Two municipal police officers guard the exit from the bell tower of San Marco, from where fragments of the bricks of the tower broke off due to the storm

Street vendors on the shore of San Marco collect the goods from the stalls damaged by the storm that hit Venice

Street vendors on the shore of San Marco collect the goods from the stalls damaged by the storm that hit Venice

Police officers stand by a cordoned off area at the bottom of the Bell Tower at St. Mark's place in Venice after the wind knocked pieces from the roof

Police officers stand by a cordoned off area at the bottom of the Bell Tower at St. Mark’s place in Venice after the wind knocked pieces from the roof

Firefighters recover a souvenir stall run by a man from Bangladesh (back right), that ended up in the Grand Canal in Venice

Firefighters recover a souvenir stall run by a man from Bangladesh (back right), that ended up in the Grand Canal in Venice

Hail the size of walnuts pummelled Italy’s Liguria region with enough force to break the windows of homes and damage orchards and gardens.

While northern Italy has suffered its worst drought in decades this year, heavy rains in recent days that brought scattered hailstorms, whirlwinds and flooding have damaged or destroyed entire crops of fruits and vegetables along with vineyards and olive orchards, according to the Italian agricultural lobby Coldiretti.

The fierce rains come amid a summer of of drought, heat waves and forest fires across Europe.

Yet to the east, on Hungary’s Southern Great Plain, shepherd Sandor Kalman can only dream of rainfall. He grazes sheep on lands desiccated by intense heat and low rainfall. As he walks on his pastures, the grass — splotched by broad patches of dry dust and sand – crunches beneath his boots.

‘In this heat wave, this clay soil actually burns the sheep’s feet, it’s so hot,’ he said, adding that his herding dogs also find it difficult to walk on the parched earth. ‘I’m 57 years old, but I’ve never seen a drought this big.’

Hungarian meteorological data this year shows the most severe lack of rainfall since 1901.

Water levels of the Danube River, one of Europe’s largest waterways, have dropped by five feet in three weeks near Budapest, leading the regional water company to warn that the supply of drinking water could be threatened.


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