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WEATHER

UPDATE: One dead in Austrian landslides

One person has died after landslides caused by heavy rains waged widespread damage in southern Austria on Wednesday.

Flood and water damage in the Villach-Land district of the Carinthia state, Austria, on June 29, 2022. Photo: GERT EGGENBERGER / APA / AFP
Flood and water damage in the Villach-Land district of the Carinthia state, Austria, on June 29, 2022. Photo: GERT EGGENBERGER / APA / AFP

Record rain falls overnight Tuesday to Wednesday sparked the landslides, sending mud and debris into populated regions. Several streams also burst their banks in the mountainous Villach-Land district in Carinthia state, which borders Italy and Slovenia.

President Alexander Van der Bellen called the destruction in Carinthia “dramatic”, appealing to people to take care of themselves and others.

An 82-year-old man was found dead after he was swept into the floods by a landslide, district head Bernd Riepan said.

Another person reported missing while travelling in a car managed to get himself to safety, he added.

One community with some 1,200 inhabitants remained cut off, Riepan told AFP. No one there was reported injured. Riepan said many houses had been partially buried in the district, though the exact number was not yet known.

Photos showed debris-strewn streets and houses partially submerged in water and mud in Villach-Land.

A flooding alert at another community in adjacent Salzburg state imposed earlier on Wednesday was lifted as the situation improved, according to the Austrian news agency APA.

“One person has been found dead unfortunately… outside the home,” a police spokeswoman, who declined to be named, told AFP.

In some areas of the region, there has never been such a large amount of rain in such a short time since the start of measurements, according to the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG).

Riepan said “many” houses had been partially buried, though the exact number was not yet known. Photos showed debris-strewn streets and houses partially submerged in water and mud in Villach-Land.

READ MORE: Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms

ZAMG said it rained as much in just a few hours as it does for the entire month of an average June.

Austria is currently experiencing a heatwave and authorities have warned of thunderstorms.

Experts say climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of heatwaves and other extreme weather events.

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WEATHER

Five people dead after violent storms hit Austria

Five people, including two children, died in Thursday as storms wreaked havoc in Austria, according to the country's news agency and officials.

Five people dead after violent storms hit Austria

Three people died due to a falling tree in Lower Austria state, news agency APA reported.

In the southern state of Carinthia, two children were killed and about a dozen other people injured at a small lake when the storm also uprooted several trees there, said Red Cross spokeswoman for the state Melanie Reiter.

Elsewhere in the region, roofs were blown off and other damage caused, she told AFP.

She said the children were estimated to be between five and eight years old. 

Train traffic also came to a halt in Carinthia and neighbouring states because of the damages caused by the storms, according to rail operator ÖBB.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer and President Alexander Van der Bellen expressed their sympathies for the victims with Van der Bellen describing the children’s deaths as an “immeasurable tragedy”.

In June, an 82-year-old man died after landslides caused by heavy rains caused widespread damage, also in Carinthia state, which borders Italy and Slovenia.

Austria is currently experiencing a heatwave and authorities have warned of thunderstorms.

Experts say climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of heatwaves and other extreme weather events.

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