Floodwaters triggered by heavy rainfall have swept through several towns in a hilly region of central-east Italy, leaving about 9 people dead and several missing, according to state radio. The 40cm of rain fell within just two to three hours after torrential rain in late hours of Thursday night. The water has submerged the streets of several towns in the region's capital, Ancona, on the Adriatic coast, and Pesaro-Urbino provinces. Among those missing is a mother and daughter plus four people. Dozens of others are reported to have saved themselves by climbing on to rooftops and trees to await rescue on Friday, in scenes described as being akin to an “apocalypse”. Fifty people are being treated in hospital.
A geologist, Mario Tozzi, told La Presse that six months’ worth of rain had fallen across the region within three hours.
Footage released by fire brigades showed rescuers on rafts trying to evacuate people in the seaside town of Senigallia, while others attempted to clear an underpass of debris.
Some 300 firefighters are currently operating in the area and have rescued dozens of people who had climbed on roofs and trees overnight to escape the floods, the fire brigade said.
Local authorities said they were unprepared for the sudden "water bomb" - compared to a "tsunami" and an "earthquake" - to drop within just two to three hours.
Among the dead are a man and his adult son found lifeless in their flooded garage where they had tried to escape in their car.
Another resident died trying to get away on his motorcycle while a fourth man was found dead in his car.