Italy storms: Five dead as northern villages are cut off

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Trees were torn down across a swathe of northern Italy

Villages and roads have been cut off by landslides as storms across Italy have claimed five more lives.

At least 12 people died earlier in the week as strong winds buffeted large areas of Italy's north and west. Many victims were killed by falling trees.

The worst-affected areas were in the far north, particularly Trentino and Veneto, where schools had to close.

Mudslides closed a key road in the Dolomites, as it emerged that the winds had torn down a fabled spruce forest.

Some of the worst damage was to roads around Belluno, after five days of storms had dislodged mud, rocks and water.

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Gales of up to 120km/h (75mph) brought down tens of thousands of trees in the Fiemme valley, where violin-maker Antonio Stradivarius sourced the wood for his instruments in the 17th Century.

Downed trees were scattered like toothpicks and officials said the wind had knocked down more trees in a handful of hours than local woodcutters could have cut down in three years.

In total an estimated 1.5m cubic metres of trees have been destroyed.

The storms have played havoc with public services. Tens of thousands of people were without power on Friday.

"We are on our knees," said Veneto Governor Luca Zaia. "If we don't intervene quickly with urgent funding, our valleys will be deserted because they have lost their services."

Image source, EPA
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Streets were flooded in Rome and several underground stations had to shut

On Thursday, four people were confirmed to have died in northern Italy, including a man and woman whose car was hit by a falling tree.

Beyond the far north, a fifth death in a car accident on Friday was blamed on heavy rain in Rome, where some underground stations were forced to close.

Image source, EPA
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The coastal road collapsed between Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure leaving the picturesque resort isolated

The picturesque, seaside village of Portofino on the north-west coast has been cut off for days because of the bad weather.

As far south as Palermo in Sicily, roads were submerged by flooded rivers.

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