Floods in Italy kill 10; Survivors plucked from roofs, trees

CANTIANO: Flash floods swept through several towns on Friday in central Italy after particularly heavy rain that lasted several hours, leaving 10 dead and at least 4 missing. Dozens of survivors scrambled to climb rooftops or trees to wait for rescue.
Floods flooded garages and basements and slammed doors. In one town, fast-moving water pushed a car onto a second-floor balcony, while cars parked elsewhere were crushed on the street. Some fields near the sea are submerged for meters (meters) of water.
“It’s not a water bomb, it’s a tsunami,” Riccardo PasqualiniThe mayor of Barbara, told Italian state radio about the sudden downpour on Thursday night that devastated his town in the Marche region near the Adriatic Sea.
He said the overnight flooding left the town’s 1,300 residents without drinking water. Pasqualini told the Italian news agency ANSA. Elsewhere in town, a boy who was swept out of his mother’s arms was rescued.
Premier Mario Draghi told a news conference in Rome that 10 people had died and 4 were missing in the flash flood. He thanked the rescuers “for their professionalism, dedication and bravery.” Officials said about 50 people were treated at the hospital for their injuries.
Draghi, who is in a caretaker role ahead of Italy’s September 25 national elections, planned to tour several devastated towns late on Friday and his government announced 5 million euro (dollar) support for the region.
It was an extreme event, more than a special one, climatologist Massimiliano Fazzini told Italian state television. He said, based on his calculations, the amount of rain that fell, concentrated in four hours, including a particularly heavy period of 15 minutes, was the most in hundreds of years.
State television said over a period of several hours the area was cut off from the amount of rain it normally receives for six months. A summer with almost no rain means that the hillsides are unusually dry and hard, so water flows faster down the slopes, increasing its impact.
The fire department tweeted that dozens of people trapped in cars or climbing onto rooftops or trees to escape rising floodwaters had been rescued. Town police Sassoferratounable to reach a man trapped in a car, reached a long branch toward him and pulled him to safety.
Helicopter crews rescued seven people in remote towns of the Apennine Mountains.
Hundreds of firefighters struggled on Friday to remove toppled tree trunks and branches amid thick mud as they searched for people who may have been buried by debris. They waded through waist-deep water on flooded streets, while others paddled in rubber boats to pick up survivors.
In the town of Ostra, a father and his eldest son were found dead in the flooded garage of the building, where they tried to get the car out, and another man tried to remove the motorcycle. His own out of the garage was also killed , state TV said . Elsewhere, a man was found dead in his car.
“When the flood happened, it was much worse than forecast,” said civil protection chief Fabrizio Curcio. A bad weather meter was issued on Thursday, but not at its peak.
Hundreds of people fled or evacuated their homes until the facility could be safely inspected and the mountains of mud cleared.
Some of the worst floods have hit the town of Senigallia, where the Misa River overflows. The slums in the hills near the Renaissance tourist town of Urbino were also flooded as rivers of swift water, mud and debris pounded the streets.
In the town of Cantiano, people shoveled mud from shops and houses and an excavator was deployed to clear the town square.
“I’m lucky because I live in a house on a slope, so basically the water doesn’t get to the point of covering it,” Mirco said. Santarelli, a Cantiano resident. “But all around here, to the people living in the valley area, it has become a barn (water). It was a panic.”
“You could see cars in the middle of the road being washed away by the flood, debris everywhere, screaming. It was chaos,” Santarelli told The Associated Press.

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