Italian officials have declared a state of emergency after killer flooding on the island of Sardinia. The torrential rain and high winds of Cyclone Cleopatra caused rivers to break their banks and bridges to collapse.
At least 17 people have been killed in flooding and hundreds made homeless after the fierce storm swept over the Mediterranean island on Monday night, dropping 450mm (18 inches) of rain in an hour and a half.
"This is a national tragedy," Prime Minister Enrico Letta said. The government set aside 20 million euros ($27 million) for the immediate rescue and clean-up work.
Regional president Ugo Cappellacci said on Tuesday that in addition to the known death toll, several people were missing. "The situation is, unfortunately, really dramatic," he told Rai News.
Television footage showed cars destroyed and bridges felled by the heavy rain and high winds of the cyclone, which made landfall on Monday.
The worst affected area was in and around the city of Olbia in the Mediterranean island's northeast. Much of the city was left destroyed, city Mayor Gianni Giovanelli told Sky TG24.
Among the dead were a family of four whose bodies were found in their flat.
Three people from the same family died when a road bridge collapsed onto their van outside the city, while a mother and daughter were found dead in a car that was swept away by a torrent, the ANSA news agency reported.
One policeman was killed in a bridge collapse while his vehicle was escorting an ambulance. Three of his colleagues were rescued by emergency services.
Other victims included a 64-year-old woman who died in her flooded home in the village of Uras in southwestern Sardinia, and a 90-year-old woman found dead in her home near Nuoro in the mountainous central part of the island. A man was also killed in a separate bridge collapse.
Many more injured people have been taken to hospital, while hundreds have fled their homes.
se, ccp/msh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)
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