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.”


ASEAN may be forced to choose between US, China: Cambodia PM’s son

Updated 21 November 2018
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ASEAN may be forced to choose between US, China: Cambodia PM’s son

  • Cambodia has become an unlikely staging ground for geopolitical influence in Asia
  • The economic ripples of the trade spat between China and the US could destabilize global supply chain links in Southeast Asia

BANGKOK: Southeast Asian nations may soon have to “choose sides” between the US and China in their ongoing trade war, the political heir to Cambodia’s strongman ruler Hun Sen warned Wednesday in rare public comments.
Impoverished Cambodia has become an unlikely staging ground for geopolitical influence in Asia.
In recent years it has turned into a key China ally, heading off criticism of the superpower over its claims to disputed seas in exchange for billions of dollars in investment and loans.
While China has cozied up to Cambodia, the United States and the European Union have admonished Hun Sen, the nation’s ruler for 33 years, for his increasingly authoritarian rule.
In a rare speech outside of his country, his son, Hun Many warned the US-China trade spat may create lasting divisions in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“Perhaps one day ASEAN would have to choose between US or China,” Hun Many said in Bangkok.
“How would we see the trade war spill or expanded in other areas? Surely it will pressure individual members of ASEAN or ASEAN as a whole to choose sides.”
The economic ripples of the trade spat between China and the US could destabilize global supply chain links in Southeast Asia, while a slump in Chinese spending would impact its trading partners.
Cambodia’s strongman Hun Sen has welcomed Chinese investment to pump-prime his country’s economy.
At the same time, he has accused the US of trying to foment revolution in Cambodia by supporting his critics.
Both the US and EU decried the July elections, which were held without a credible opposition and gave Hun Sen another term in power.
When asked which of the superpowers Cambodia would side with, the Australian-educated Hun Many demurred.
“At the end of the day, it depends on those who are involved to take a more responsible approach for their decisions that affects the entire world,” he said.
Earlier this week, Hun Sen swatted away concerns that Beijing will construct a naval base off the southwest coast of Cambodia, which would provide ready access to the disputed South China Sea.
Beijing claims most of the flashpoint area, infuriating the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan who all have competing claims to its islands and potentially resource-rich waters.
Hun Many, who described himself as a “proud son,” is widely believed to be in the running to one day replace his father.
His elder brother, Manit, is the head of a military intelligence unit while Manet, the oldest, was promoted in September to the chief of joint staff of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces as well as the commander of the infantry army headquarters.
But Many brushed aside the notion.
“It is way too soon to say that I am in the next generation of leaders,” he said.