Italy experiences heat, hail, and wildfires

Fires decimated the island of Sicily in southern Italy, and storms and hail tore through the country’s north.

On Monday and the early part of Tuesday, the airport in Palermo, the capital of Sicily, was closed to air traffic because smoke from a nearby fire had reduced visibility. Although there were significantly fewer flights, officials said the airport reopened later on Tuesday, according to the Xinhua news agency.

Due to a fire in one of the terminals, Catania Airport, Sicily’s other major air hub, was closed last week. There were over 50 major wildfires burning in Sicily as of Tuesday, and even though it is currently operating at a fraction of its potential, images posted on Italian news websites depict burning hillsides and grasslands. One of the best-preserved Doric temples in the world, the 2,500-year-old Segesta temple in northwest Sicily, which was constructed by the Greeks, has also been threatened by fire. At least 1500 citizens of Palermo were compelled to leave their homes on Tuesday as the Cervello hospital was evacuated. According to media reports, authorities are having trouble determining where to evacuate residents due to the fires’ widespread nature. The five million residents of the island’s two major airports have less access to the Italian mainland as a result of their partial closure.

On Tuesday, the majority of southern and central Italy was experiencing extreme heat. In Sicily, the prolonged heatwave has dried out the land, which has caused fires.

Other regions of the country are also being significantly impacted by high temperatures. Since Sunday, there have been at least three heat-related fatalities in and around Rome. A 98-year-old man lost his life in Calabria, another southern region when the flames engulfed his home.

According to Antonello Fiore, president of the Italian Society of Environmental Geology, ecosystems are suffering “irreparable damage” as a result of the fires in the southern part of the nation.

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