A series of violent thunderstorms hit Switzerland on Thursday, killing two people, flooding basements and garages and disrupting motorway traffic.

 

"/> A series of violent thunderstorms hit Switzerland on Thursday, killing two people, flooding basements and garages and disrupting motorway traffic.

 

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Violent thunderstorm claims two lives in Zug

A series of violent thunderstorms hit Switzerland on Thursday, killing two people, flooding basements and garages and disrupting motorway traffic.

 

Two people who had sought shelter from a raging thunderstorm under a tree in Canton Zug were killed when the tree collapsed on them in strong wind gusts, reports said. The tree also injured two other people. The group was reportedly attending a company’s party in the area, said a report on 20 Minuten.

The Canton Schwyz area, Zurich, Lucerne and St. Gallen were also hit by violent storms which continued overnight.

“The wind and hail whipped through the streets as if Lucerne was a city on the sea,” reader-reporter Zoran Ivanovic was quoted as saying by the daily, adding that the city’s streets became “white within minutes.”

Flooded basements and garages were reported across the country and hundreds of emergency calls were placed to rescue teams. Hail drops as big as ping pong balls fell between Pfäffikon and Wollerau, while near Ägerisee, or Lake Aegeri, winds blew at 132 km/h and 30 litres of water per square meter fell in only 10 minutes, SF Meteo said.

In the southern Canton Ticino, a landslide forced the closure of a motorway lane between Chiasso and Melide, said a report on the Corriere del Ticino newspaper.

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WILDFIRES

Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

Europe's blistering summer may not be over yet, but 2022 is already breaking records, with nearly 660,000 hectares ravaged since January, according to the EU's satellite monitoring service.

Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

And while countries on the Mediterranean have normally been the main seats of fires in Europe, this year, other countries are also suffering heavily.

Fires this year have forced people to flee their homes, destroyed buildings and burned forests in EU countries, including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Some 659,541 hectares (1.6 million acres) have been destroyed so far, data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) showed, setting a record at this point in the year since data collection began in 2006.

Europe has suffered a series of heatwaves, forest fires and historic drought that experts say are being driven by human-induced climate change.

They warn more frequent and longer heatwaves are on the way.

The worst-affected country has been Spain, where fire has destroyed 244,924 hectares, according to EFFIS data.

The EFFIS uses satellite data from the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

The data comes after CAMS said Friday that 2022 was a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe and warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger”.

“2022 is already a record year, just below 2017,” EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel said. In 2017, 420,913 hectares had burned by August 13, rising to 988,087 hectares by the end of the year.

“The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all of Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season,” he said.

Since 2010, there had been a trend towards more fires in central and northern Europe, with fires in countries that “normally do not experience fires in their territory”, he added.

“The overall fire season in the EU is really driven mainly by countries in the Mediterranean region, except in years like this one, in which fires also happen in central and northern regions,” he added.

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