Bridges and cars were swept away throughout the villages in Tuscany and Liguria after the northern Italian regions received 20 inches of rain on Tuesday, causing mudslides and flash flooding throughout the villages within the Vara River valley on Wednesday morning.
It’s being reported anywhere between six and nine people have died from the severe flash flooding, according to the BBC. Authorities don’t have exact figures as they dig out from this disaster.
“Monterosso does not exist anymore,” Mayor Angelo Betta said bluntly, after 20 inches of rain poured down in a 24-hour period. “We have lost electricty, gas, telephone lines and we have people missing. Everything is flooded. We need help quickly. It is just a sea of mud everywhere.” Ten people in the region have been reported as still missing.
The Cinque Terre, a popular tourist destination and World Heritage site, was the hardest hit region and looked as if they had been hit by a “meteorological explosion.” Monterosso is one of those five villages. The neighboring village of Vernazza had to be evacuated by sea, with the Coast Guard rescuing stranded foreign tourists and locals.
The Telegraph reports: “Mud slides and torrential rain closed major roads, in one case knocking a petrol tanker on its side amid a sea of debris. Bridges were destroyed and trains blocked. A woman died after her car was hit by a wall of water and mud in the Massa Carrara area of northern Tuscany, while three people died when a house collapsed in Liguria. Up to 50 people were rescued from the floods by firemen in rubber dinghies.”
A 50-year-old woman and an elderly couple from the village of Borghetto were swept to their deaths in a river of mud, according to authorities in La Spezia.
Another young woman was swept along for over a kilometre but was later found exhausted and in a state of shock. The situation was becoming serious, said the leader of Liguria’s first aid and rescue service, Renata Briano, “especially since we don’t have any news of what is happening in some isolated areas.”
The director of Italy’s first aid and rescue service, Franco Gabrielli, said: “Right now the priority is getting to people before nightfall.”
Authorities were “working to get basic services back on as in some areas there was no electricity, water, gas and communications are difficult,” he said.
In this video, you can get a good idea of how bad the flood waters truly were.
A state of emergency has been declared in the regions of Liguria and Tuscany where the storms hit, as funds are routed for the clean up. Sky News reports, police revealed five looters had been arrested in the village of Aulla as they picked through stores made vulnerable by the flood waters.