Sardinia hit by deadly Cyclone Cleopatra and floods – ‘We haven’t seen a situation as extreme as this, perhaps for decades’Posted by Jim at Wednesday, November 20, 2013
19 November 2013 (BBC News) – Sardinia hit by deadly Cyclone Cleopatra and floods
At least 18 people, including four children, have been killed in flooding on the Italian island of Sardinia after a cyclone and heavy rain.
A number of people are reported missing after rivers burst their banks. Cars were swept away and bridges collapsed.
The area around the north-eastern city of Olbia was worst-hit - in some places the water was up to 3m (10ft) deep.
Prime Minister Enrico Letta has declared a state of emergency, speaking of a "national tragedy".
Mr Letta announced that 20 million euros (£16.8m, $27m) would be allocated immediately to emergency relief efforts, with soldiers deployed in the region.
"We are focusing on essential operations: saving human lives, assisting displaced people and clearing road access," he said after an emergency cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
More than 440mm (17.3in) of rain fell in 90 minutes overnight into Tuesday morning.
A Brazilian family of four drowned when their basement flat in the town of Arzachena, in the northern part of the island, filled with water. Two children were among the dead.
Three people died when a road bridge collapsed on to their car near Olbia, according to local media.
In a separate incident, a mother and her daughter were found dead in their car after it was swept away by floods.
Among the victims was a police officer who died after a bridge collapsed as he tried to escort an ambulance.
Hundreds of people across the Mediterranean island have been moved from their homes because of the flash flooding caused by Cyclone Cleopatra.
"We're at maximum alert," Giorgio Cicalo, an official from Sardinia's civil protection authority, told Italy's Rai TV.
"We haven't seen a situation as extreme as this, perhaps for decades - especially because it's been across the whole island."
Sardinian Governor Ugo Cappellacci told Italian TV that the situation on the island was "dramatic".
Meanwhile Olbia Mayor Gianni Giovanelli was quoted by Sky TG24 as saying that the city had been hit by an "apocalyptic"' storm.
Some city residents used social media to offer shelter to those forced out of their homes. [more]