Venice Hotels Articles

August 16, 2010

Testimonies: Caught inside a tornado

In my Country, Italy, tornadoes are relatively frequent but they are always less intense and frequent than those usual in the wide planes of North America and along the coasts of all Asian Countries of the Pacific Ocean, but they can make many damages in very localized areas, with winds reaching sometimes 250 Km/h of speed.

They are caused by thunderstorm clouds in summer and autumn, created by wet and hot air masses formed on the sea or also on planes.

On Internet, I’ve found the report of a terrible tornado, maybe, the most catastrophic ever occurred in Italy, that hit the Venice Lagoon on September 11th, 1970, making enormous damages and many victims in the long but narrow strip invested.

This tornado formed itself at 20:45, in the Venetian Plane near to the Colli Euganei, low hills in the middle of the plane, causing immediately the first damages and victims; the tornado killed 2 person and wounded a total of 32 people that would have been only the first of a long series, before reaching Venice Lagoon and destroyed or damaged many houses (starting from their roofs) and about 2000 trees.

At 21:30, the tornado invested the first island in the lagoon making other serious damages to buildings, although all built in bricks and cement.

In the harbour of Venice, the “Aquileia” ship (400 tons of weight) was invested and damaged and a tourist was wounded, but the main tragedy occurred in the following few minutes:

at 21:37 the tornado invested a public service boat for tourists (22 tons for 22 metres of length) making it sink within few seconds; 21 persons died, trapped inside it.

Here is the account of the captain of that boat:

“It was about 21:30 and, at a certain point, I felt a furious blow of wind; I tried to reach the S. Elena landing, the nearest point.

It has lasted few seconds; I have seen the boat rise up and then overturn: an incredible thing.

I tried, when into the water, to give aid to people near me, but the zone was dark and, unfortunately, I could see few of them”.

In the near island, many trees were uprooted and one of them killed a man, while other houses, bars and restaurants were seriously damaged or destroyed.

Also many structures of the local soccer stadium were tore down, like those of the Morosini Ship College.

All these structures was swept away as they were made of paper, until a near channel.

At 21:40 it reached the long land strip of Lido Island, separating the Venice Lagoon from the sea, with winds that reached more than 220 Km/h, as measured in the Meteorologic Observatory of Lido.

Here, the winds destroyed many houses, trees and some private airplanes of a little airport.

Then, they invested a camping with about 300 persons who were having dinner, in the largest part; also here, a total devastation and another tragedy, with 12 persons dead and 141 wounded.

By the accounts made by the survivors, tens of trees flew like leaves but with the violence of artillery bullets, destroying everything.

Tents, cars and caravans were make fly and roll as playing balls, all the bungalows tore down; also the trees of a near wood were totally destroyed, with breaks at the same height.

All persons hit by trees and objects had their head or chest crashed.

Instead, at few metres outside the land strip hit by the tornado, everything was intact; also this is typical of these events.

The total of the victims, during that night of hell, counted 35 victims, many hundreds wounded and enormous damages at every structure encountered by the tornado.

The first aids encountered great problems for all the night; all the telephone and electric power wires had been swept away and they had to work in a nearly total darkness.

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