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WEATHER

Emmental takes the brunt in weekend storms

The Emmental region is in the middle of a clear-up operation after further bad weather caused major damage over the weekend to the tune of four million francs ($4.4 million)

Emmental takes the brunt in weekend storms
Storms uprooted trees and flooded villages in Emmental. Photo: Caroline Bishop

On Saturday heavy rains fell on already saturated ground following storms last Thursday that flooded the village of Schangau.

Dynamite is now being used to clear the mud, gravel and fallen trees that are blocking rivers and creeks in the area, regional crisis manager Georges Wüthrich told news agency ATS.

On Friday the army built two emergency bridges over the river Emme after flood waters washed away the existing wooden bridges.

But efforts to clean up farms and attend to crop fields devastated in the storms on Thursday were hampered on Saturday as the bad weather returned.

The Bern Home Insurance group (GVB) estimated the total cost of the damage in Emmental at four million francs ($4.4 million), reported ATS.

A counselling team was on hand to help local residents cope with the situation.

Moral was lifted on Saturday as federal councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann, who is from the Emmental, paid a visit to the area and praised the courage of local residents.

They are likely to need it in the days to come, with more bad weather forecast for Monday afternoon and Tuesday.

The risk of landslide in the Emmental is likely to remain unstable until at least Wednesday, according to the authorities.

Central and eastern Switzerland and Lichtenstein also experienced violent storms over the weekend, causing a landslide that blocked the route between Steg and Malbun in Lichtenstein.  

In the cantons of St Gall and Schwyz emergency services were called to a number of houses where heavy rains had flooded basements, though the authorities said the situation was under control.

Romandie was spared the worst of the weather over the weekend, though the Paléo Festival near Nyon had to implement its “rain plan” once again.

Festival car parks were closed entirely on Saturday and Sunday.

Earlier in the week the closure of selected car parks had sparked anger in festivalgoers after long queues formed to exit the site. 

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WILDFIRES

2022 sees record wildfire destruction in Europe: 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.

2022 sees record wildfire destruction in Europe: 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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