Flooded olive groves in Salento

  

Heavy rain, hail, thunderstorms, and winds of more than 100 kilometres per hour hit many parts of southern Italy on Tuesday.

The Italian Civil Protection Department issued a red alert for the regions of Basilicata, Calabria and Sicily, and a lower orange alert was issued for Puglia ahead of fierce storms which began in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Schools across many parts of the southern regions announced closures for Tuesday, and the Civil Protection Department warned drivers of the risk of falling trees and swollen rivers.

Since Monday night, firefighters in the four southern regions have been called out a total of 460 times to deal with storm damage, the fire service wrote on Twitter.

While no injuries have been reported so far, there are widespread reports of damage to homes, businesses, electricity supplies and farmers’ crops across all four regions.

A tornado was reported off the coast of Siracuse, Sicily.

In Basilicata, the coastal town of Metaponto was also reportedly hit by a tornado while nearby Matera suffered serious flooding.

This dramatic video footage shows floodwaster gushing through Matera’s historic town centre on Tuesday morning.

“We’ve never seen anything like it,” Matera resident Giuseppe Bartucci, who shot the video, told The Local.

Restaurants and hotels in Matera’s ancient, Unesco-listed Sassi, or old town, suffered serious damage according to local news reports.

crash

  

Near Bari on Tuesday morning a lorry crashed into a motorway barrier after losing control in heavy rain. No one was hurt in the accident, firefighters confirmed.

In Salento, Puglia, a large number of olive trees were reportedly damaged by strong winds, while the university of Salento closed due to the extreme weather lashing the province of Lecce.

The Local’s Italy editor Clare Speak also experienced flooding in Bari province on Tuesday, and said olive trees in the area had been stripped bare by fierce winds, days before they were due to be harvested.

Agricultural group Coldiretti said serious damage had been done to crops and land across many areas.

“Gusts of wind up to over 100 kilometers per hour are lashing Puglia, destroying greenhouses, tents, buildings, blowing down trees, and leaving olives on the ground.” said Savino Muraglia, president of Coldiretti Puglia.