Death toll from Sicilian wildfires climbs as thousands of tourists evacuated in Apulia

Fires continue to rage behind Palermo airport

 PALERMO, Sicily - - Two charred bodies have been found in the Palermo suburb of Cinisi, firefighting authorities said Wednesday, as wildfires continue to rage in southern Italy.

 The death toll from the fires in Sicily is growing - in the Palermo area there are already three dead, health authorities report.

 After an elderly woman died because help could not reach her because of the fires near her home, two charred corpses were found not far from the airport area of the capital. 

 This follows extreme weather chaos in Calabria, on Tuesday, where numerous fires hit the Catanzaro and Reggino areas with an elderly man who dying in Cardeto, near Reggio Calabria, due to the fires that are affecting the hilly area near the city, including the areas of Mosorrofa and Gallina. 

 The 98-year-old man was killed by flames from a wildfire while in his bed, firefighters report.

 Fires in Gargano and Salento have caused two thousand people to be evacuated from three hotels.

 According to reports, the elderly man, who was bedridden, was caught in the flames that surrounded the country house where he lived, while his daughter and son-in-law, who were slightly injured, managed to save themselves. 

 In the region, temperatures have exceeded 40 degrees celsius almost everywhere with 44 degrees celsius recorded in Crotone at 3pm on Tuesday. 

 In Gargano, about two thousand guests of three large accommodation facilities in Vieste (Residence Gattarella, Hotel Portonovo, and Hotel Gargano) were evacuated on Tuesday because of a large fire that broke out on the beach of San Felice.

 They were directed to a gym set up by the municipality in the centre of the coastal town, so that they can spend the night there "in case they cannot return to their accommodation," explains mayor Giuseppe Nobiletti. 

 The situation is complex because the flames were being fed by the strong wind. Several Canadairs were also in action. From the ground, forestry carabinieri, fire brigade and civil protection were operating. 

 Local police officers were also on the scene to divert traffic. Already on Tuesday morning, again at Vieste, another fire had broken out in the Reginella area close to some campsites and other tourist facilities: as a precautionary measure, only for a few hours, holidaymakers in the area were evacuated.

 There are also two Forest Service firefighters seriously injured by burns suffered during the firefighting operations that are affecting especially Palermo and Catania.

 In total, almost 2,000 people have been displaced. All this is unfolding while the north, from Lombardy to Veneto, is reckoning with the damage caused by violent storms.

 Health workers have also been blocked by the fire while flames have been sighted at the Santa Maria di Gesù cemetery in Palermo.

 The fires are affecting the mountains and hills around the city, despite the incessant work of the fire brigade and the intervention of Canadairs, two charred bodies were found in a hut in Cinisi, Palermo.

 The victims are Salvatore Cometa, 78, and Teresa Monastero, 76. The two, who according to initial information had occupied the building, were allegedly caught in the fire and had no chance, Sicilian firefighters announced.

 They were found in Fondo Orsa inside a house in very poor condition that had gone up in flames.

 During this emergency, the Palermo Health Authority, in a warning to the public, recommended avoiding prolonged outdoor exposure “except in cases that are strictly necessary.”

 “The high temperatures,” explained the Authority, “together with the smoke generated by the numerous fires, could lead to the onset of cardio-circulatory and respiratory problems in the exposed population, with particular regard to the most vulnerable people.”

 The Prevention Department of the Authority is encouraging people not to go out “pending the mitigation of the phenomenon and to acquire the result of the analyses being carried out.”