Six people have died and two are missing after rivers burst their banks following torrential rain overnight in the central Italian region of Tuscany, local authorities said on Friday.
There were fears that the Arno River could flood the historic city of Florence after the southern edge of Storm Ciaran inundated surrounding towns, but the high water mark passed mid-morning without major incident.
“The situation is still very critical,” Monia Monni, a regional councilor for civil protection, told Reuters in particular, referring to Campi Bisenzio, a town about 15 kilometers (9 miles) northwest of Florence.
“(Elsewhere) the water has gone away, but there is mud and destruction that an event like this will leave behind,” Monni added.
Around 190 people were forced to evacuate their homes, including 150 in Campi Bisenzio, where ground-floor plots were damaged, parked cars were half-submerged and rescuers navigated flooded streets in rubber dinghies.
Resident Enza Carfagna told Reuters how her family rescued an elderly wheelchair-bound neighbor from the ground floor, using a blanket to lift her the stairs.
“Last night it didn’t seem like a big deal, it rained very little. Then around 21:00 (2000 GMT) we saw all this brown water coming and we went to get the lady,” she said.
The Italian government declared a state of emergency and set aside an initial 5 million euros ($5.4 million) to help the worst-hit areas.
Around 48,000 people in the region were without electricity, Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister Matteo Salvini told a news conference.
CLIMATE CHANGE BLAME
Tuscan President Eugenio Giani said the region had never experienced so much rain in such a short period. Speaking to Sky news channel TG24, he said experts had told him it was the worst downpour in 100 years.
Another person, a firefighter, was missing in the northeastern Veneto region, the governor there said, according to Sky TG24.
After a week of strong winds and heavy rain lashing the country, weather warnings remained in place in many Italian regions, with some schools closed.
Image Source: WRAL.com