Four dead after boat overturns on Italy’s Lake Maggiore

Four people, including members of the Italian and Israeli intelligence services, died when a boat overturned on Lake Maggiore in strong winds, officials said on Monday.

Four people were found dead after a tourist boat sank on Lake Maggiore on Sunday.
Four people were found dead after a tourist boat sank on Lake Maggiore on Sunday, May 28th. Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP.

The boat tipped over on Sunday evening off Lisanza, at the southern end of the lake in northern Italy, after the weather suddenly turned stormy.

“The bodies of four people have been recovered,” fire brigade spokesman Luca Cari told AFP.

Israel’s foreign ministry said one of the dead was a former member of the country’s security forces in his fifties.

Two others were Italian, a 62-year-old man and a 53-year-old woman who both worked in the intelligence services, Italy’s security services said.

“The two employees, belonging to the intelligence department, were taking part in a convivial meeting organised to celebrate the birthday of one of the group,” it said.

Media reports said the fourth victim was a 50-year-old Russian woman, the partner of the boat’s captain.

President of the Lombardy region Attilio Fontana said on Sunday a “whirlwind” had caused the 16-metre-long boat to overturn.

Firefighters on Sunday said 19 people had survived the accident, with media reports suggesting some had been picked up by passing boats while others swam to shore.

The boat had been carrying both Italian and foreign tourists, and it sank quickly, taking one of the victims with it, according to reports.

A firefighters’ video showed a search and rescue helicopter flying over choppy waters, where chairs and other debris could be seen floating.

Lake Maggiore, which lies on the south side of the Alps, is the second largest lake in Italy and a popular tourist destination.

Initial reports that some of the tourists involved were British were denied by an embassy official.

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WATCH: Snow falls in August as northern Italy hit by storms

A town in the Italian Alps woke up to unusual summer snowfall on Monday, as storms, flooding, and even tornadoes hit the north of the country.

WATCH: Snow falls in August as northern Italy hit by storms

Snow has come exceptionally early to one part of the Alps this year after temperatures in the area reportedly plunged by around 20 degrees within just 48 hours.

A cold air front moving in from northern Europe brought the heatwave to an abrupt end in northern Italy over the weekend, and authorities issued weather warnings as the sudden change in temperature brought with it heavy rainfall, storms, flash floods, and even mini tornadoes.

READ ALSO: What do Italy’s storm alerts mean?

In the Alpine resort town of Sestriere, residents and holidaymakers woke up to several centimetres of snow on Monday morning – just days after the area had recorded normal summer temperatures.

Residents said this was the first time it had snowed there in summer for ten years.

“I have never seen snow in August in Sestriere,” a shop worker named Andrea told newspaper Il Corriere. “There is a bit of disappointment actually… it means that the summer is over.”

Other residents reportedly said that they considered the snow a “good omen” for the upcoming winter season, after Italy’s ski resorts suffered several consecutive years of financial losses due to pandemic closures and a lack of snow.

More snow is likely to fall in the area in the coming days, according to forecasts.

Firefighters meanwhile reported rescuing several people on the Colle dell’Agnello Alpine pass between Italy and France on Monday after their cars became stranded in heavy snow.

On Monday morning, a huge rockslide in the nearby Maurienne valley of the French Alps left several roads blocked and train services between France and Italy halted until at least Thursday.

Emergency services were on alert in much of northern Italy early this week following warnings that unstable weather conditions could lead to heavy rain and potential flooding in some areas.