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A firefighter checks a building as a wildfire burns near the Sicilian village of Curcuraci near Messina, Italy, July 25, 2023. — Reuters
A firefighter checks a building as a wildfire burns near the Sicilian village of Curcuraci near Messina, Italy, July 25, 2023. — Reuters

Authorities were forced to cease operation and close down the Palermo airport in Sicily Tuesday due to storms and extreme weather conditions including heatwaves claiming at least two lives in the country, with major wildfires blazing in the nearby area, reported Reuters.

The airport operator wrote on Twitter that the airport in the capital city of Sicily will remain closed 0900 GMT, with firefighters working to extinguish a blaze in a nearby area that also affected the local transport and rail service.

Severe conditions and incidents have exacerbated the travel misery of Italy as it is at its peak of tourist season.

The island’s main airport of Catania, Italy’s fifth-biggest, was closed last week due to a fire in a terminal building and has reopened only for a few flights.

A heat wave has hit southern Europe, with scorching temperatures bringing increased risk of fires and deaths.

In some parts of eastern Sicily, temperatures rose to 47.6 Celsius (117.7 Fahrenheit) Monday, close to a record European high of 48.8 Celsius recorded on the island two years ago.

A view shows fallen trees following thunderstorms and torrential rain in Milan, Italy July 25, 2023. — Reuters
A view shows fallen trees following thunderstorms and torrential rain in Milan, Italy July 25, 2023. — Reuters

On Tuesday, Italy put 16 cities on red alert because of the acute heatwave. These include Palermo and Catania, where power and water supply cuts that local officials blamed in part on the heat have been frequent in recent days.

Meanwhile, an overnight storm in Milan tore off roofs and uprooted trees, blocking roads and disrupting overground transportation in Italy’s financial capital.

Two women were killed Monday and Tuesday in the northern Monza and Brescia provinces after being crushed by falling trees.

On Monday, a Delta flight headed to New York which had taken off from Milan’s Malpensa airport was seriously damaged by a hailstorm and forced to land in Rome.

Italy is one of the European countries most affected by climate change and suffered deadly floods in May.

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