This picture taken on November 4, 2018 shows the flooded house where nine people of the same family died after a small river burst its banks in Casteldaccia near Palermo on the southern Italian island of Sicily. - Rescue services said the bodies of the family, including children aged one, three and 15, were found in their house and a man was found separately in his car while two other people are missing, they said, as Italy grapples with fierce storms which have already claimed at least 20 lives this week. (Photo by Alessandro FUCARINI / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ALESSANDRO FUCARINI/AFP/Getty Images)
Death toll to 29 in Italy's historic flooding
01:24 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Twelve people have been confirmed dead after severe flooding in Sicily, Italy, on Sunday, bringing the nationwide death toll from a week of extreme weather to 29.

Nine members of two families were among those killed, as they dined together in a house that was submerged by water from a nearby river that suddenly overflowed, according to the fire brigade, which said its divers had found the bodies.

Giuseppe Giordano, one of the survivors, told Sky TG24 the harrowing story of how he lost his teenage son, Federico, and one-year-old daughter, Rachele, in the incident.

The swollen Milicia river runs in the area where nine people lost their lives when their home was flooded in Casteldaccia, near Palermo, Italy on Sunday, November 4.

Federico was trying to hold his sister above the deluge.

“I saw the windows had darkened. I took the car keys to try to leave and the window exploded, and then the wall unit fell and then I didn’t see anything else … maybe the light went out.”

He said he found himself swallowing water and managed to get out to a tree to hold onto for more than two hours yelling for help.

Italy’s civil protection agency said it was still looking for a doctor who had been on his way to work at a hospital Saturday night and was missing.

High winds and heavy rain have devastated parts of the country over the past week, causing the worst flooding in at least a decade in Venice, damages of more than 1 billion euros ($1.14 billion) in Veneto and landslides that have cut off villages, authorities said.

The situation in Sicily is “dramatic,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Sunday.

Conte will call a cabinet meeting to announce a state of emergency in affected regions, he said at a press conference in Palermo, Sicily.

Italy’s civil protection agency continues to monitor the situation, issuing weather warnings via Twitter, while volunteers from the Italian Red Cross work to rescue people.

Several of last week’s deaths were caused by falling trees as winds as strong as 190 kilometers per hour (118 mph) toppled acres of woodland, including the famous “Violin Forest” that provided wood for violin maker Antonio Stradivarius’ instruments.

Two young people died south of Rome when a tree hit their car. Another was hit by a falling tree while walking in Naples.

Family members react after leaving the morgue in Casteldaccia near Palermo on the southern Italian island of Sicily on November 4, 2018, after floods killed at least 12 people