Death toll from Italy storms surges past 30

The governor of the Veneto region, Luca Zaia, 2nd from right, checks the devastation left behind after a week of bad weather in the Veneto region, northeastern Italy, Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018. (AP)
Updated 04 November 2018
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Death toll from Italy storms surges past 30

  • The bodies of nine people were found in their house in Casteldaccia in the Palermo region
  • Italy has dealt with a series of deadly storms for a week now, especially in the north and around Venice

ROME: Floods have killed 12 people on the southern island of Sicily, nine of them from the same family, rescue services said Sunday, taking the week’s toll across Italy past 30.
Six Italian regions remain on high alert for storms.
The bodies of nine people were found in their house in Casteldaccia in the Palermo region, next to a small river which had burst its banks, rescue services said.
The victims included children aged one, three, and 15.
Three other members of the family managed to escape, one by climbing a tree, the Agi news agency reported.
“I lost everything, I have nothing left, just my daughter,” one of the survivors, Giuseppe Giordano, told journalists.
His wife, two other children, his parents, brother, and sister all died, he said.
After flying over Casteldaccia Sunday, Sicilian prosecutor Ambrogio Cartosio described a “total disaster.”
Officials have opened an investigation to determine whether houses built near the river met legal safety norms.
In a separate incident, a 44-year-old man was found dead in his car near Vicari, also in the Palermo region.
He had been trying to reach a service station to help a colleague trapped there. A passenger in the car is still missing.
Rescue workers are also searching for a doctor forced by the storms to abandon his car near the town of Corleone after trying to drive to work at the hospital there.
Two other people, a man and a woman, died after their car was caught in the floods in the region of Agrigente, a little further south on the island.
Troops were deployed to check the condition of the main roads on the Mediterranean island Sunday.
Earlier this week, floods in Sicily closed many roads and mayors ordered schools, public parks, and underpasses shut.
Italy has dealt with a series of deadly storms for a week now, especially in the north and around Venice.
The severe weather has caused massive damage and disruption. Trees in mountainside forests in the northeast of the country were flattened like matchsticks.
“It’s like after an earthquake,” said the governor of the Veneto region, Luca Zaia. “Thousands of hectares of forest were razed to the ground, as if by a giant electric saw.”
On Sunday, after flying over the region with Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, Zaia said the storms had destroyed 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres) of pine forest in all.
Salvini posted photos of the devastation in a series of tweets Sunday after flying over the Alpine town of Belluno.
“We need 40 billion euros ($45.5 billion) to secure the national territory,” he said.
He pledged to collect and spend that sum but, in a barbed aside to the European Union, said he hoped his plans would not provoke overspending complaints from Brussels.
Europe has objected to Italy’s proposed budget, which it says will worsen the country’s already huge deficit.
The canal city of Venice, on Italy’s northeast coast, has also experienced some of its worst flooding ever, and withstood winds of up to 180 kilometers an hour (110 miles an hour).
The picturesque fishing village of Portofino near Genoa, a famed holiday resort on the Italian riviera, was only reachable by sea after the main road collapsed.
An emergency path opened to let residents out was deemed too dangerous.
Italy’s civil protection agency has described the weather lashing the country this week as “one of the most complex meteorological situations of the past 50 to 60 years.”


Philippine Senators oppose president’s push to lower criminal age to 9

President Rodrigo Duterte speaks in front of housewives and mothers, that participate in the anti-illegal drugs campaign of the provincial government and Duterte's war on drugs at Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga province, Philippines December 22, 2016. (REUTERS)
Updated 56 min 38 sec ago
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Philippine Senators oppose president’s push to lower criminal age to 9

  • International organizations have expressed alarm, including UNICEF and Save the Children, while domestic activists said children should be protected from criminals

MANILA: Senators in the Philippines on Tuesday joined activists and child protection groups in condemning a lower house move to reduce the age of criminal liability from 15 to nine, calling it extreme and unjust.
The proposal has President Rodrigo Duterte’s support and is being revived by his Congressional allies, having been filed on his inauguration day in 2016 along with a bid to re-introduce the death penalty — moves touting his crime-busting credentials.
The plan was approved on Monday by the lower house’s justice committee, but still needs several readings before a house vote. It would then require counterpart legislation and approval of the Senate, members of which appear less supportive.
“It is anti-family, anti-poor and simply unjust. Moreover, it will promote a heartless and ruthless society that has no regard for its own people,” said Antonio Trillanes, one of Duterte’s biggest critics.
Risa Hontiveros said the idea went against Philippines’ international commitments and a global trend of raising, not lowering, the criminal age.
“Why do we want to slide back to the minimum, or even below the minimum? Is this a race to the bottom?” she told a Senate hearing.
Duterte campaigned aggressively on eliminating crime, drugs and corruption and has said he has since realized they were all on a greater scale than he had imagined.
Despite a war on drugs that has killed thousands of people and graft-related scandals and resignations of his own appointees, Duterte has not lost his lustre among Filipinos, who polls show back his morality-centered approach to law and order.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said nine was too young, but he supported lowering the age “to a certain level.” Joel Villanueva said the bill needed a rethink, to target parents more.
“Children in general have different levels of maturity and discernment,” he added.
International organizations have expressed alarm, including UNICEF and Save the Children, while domestic activists said children should be protected from criminals, not held liable for things they were forced to do.
Agnes Callamard, a United Nations special rapporteur who has frequently locked horns with Duterte, called it a “dangerous and potentially deadly proposal. Just shameful.”
Justice committee chairman Salvador Leachon, however, said the bill was misunderstood, and was rehabilitation-centered, and “pro-children,” with non-compliant parents the ones who would go to jail.
“The point here is there is no punishment,” he told news channel ANC. “It’s rehabilitation, reformative, taking care of the family.”