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5 dead as floods hit France and Italy

China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-11-26 09:29

People walk on the Murazzi, alongside the Po River, in Turin on Sunday. Italy's longest river has reached a critical level as torrential rain sweeps the country, flooding parts of the city center. [Photo/REUTERS]

ROME - Flooding surged in France and Italy amid heavy rains over the weekend, leaving at least five dead and a stretch of elevated highway collapsed by a landslide, officials said on Sunday. The weather has trapped travelers, downed trees and unleashed mudslides in parts of both countries.

The administration for France's Var region said four people died, including a couple in their 70s from the perfume capital of Grasse whose car got submerged. One person died after a French rescue boat sank in the Mediterranean and another was found dead in a car.

The Nice airport was briefly closed on Saturday. Rivers leading from the Alps to the French Riviera broke their banks, and sirens rang out in resort towns. Images on French media showed inundated streets and waves slamming onto roadsides.

French national weather service Meteo France said the flooding area absorbed the equivalent of two months of average rainfall in 24 hours.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, after visiting some of the flooded areas on Sunday, said more than 1,600 people have been evacuated.

In northern Italy, a woman was found dead after the Bomida River swept away her car. Rescuers are also searching for possible victims after a landslide caused the collapse of a stretch of an elevated highway near the flooded city of Savona.

In an aerial video taken by firefighters, cars and one truck could be seen stopped perilously close to the point where the raised part of the highway plunged onto a wooded area of the Liguria region.

Liguria Governor Giovanni Toti said a landslide caused the highway collapse in a muddy, hilly area. Firefighters were using dogs to sniff out possible victims in two-meter high muddy debris, Toti said. It wasn't known if any vehicles plunged off the highway, which is supported by pillars at that point.

The roadway gave way about 1.5 kilometers outside Savona on the highway that links that Riviera city to Turin.

The collapse was eerily reminiscent of the 2018 bridge tragedy in Genoa during a rainstorm that killed 43 people, when trucks and cars plunged into a dry riverbed below.

Flooding in the northwestern city of Turin prompted the cancellation of a marathon there.

Rain-swollen rivers and flooded streets plagued Italy, where it has been raining, sometimes heavily, in much of the country nearly every day for about two weeks.

About 150 people were evacuated from homes in Liguria, Italy's hilly northwest coastal region. The region struggled with mudslides that blocked several roads, isolating hamlets. In Genoa, the region's principal city, the charming neighborhood of Boccadasse, a former fishing village with pastel-painted houses, was flooded after the sea rushed over retaining walls and onto the seaside road.

In parts of the south, cars churned through water higher than their tires, and several motorists had to be rescued from their vehicles in flooded streets in Reggio Calabria, a city in the southern "toe" of the Italian boot-shaped peninsula, RAI state TV said.

Associated Press

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