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Mother and daughter killed in Rome building explosion

A mother and her nine-year-old daughter died after a two-storey building exploded in Acilia, an area in southwest Rome, on Wednesday afternoon.

Mother and daughter killed in Rome building explosion
Photo: Luca Parioli

Debora Caterini, a 47-year-old teacher, and her daughter Aurora were buried in the rubble of the collapsed building following an explosion caused by a gas leak. 

A man and a 68-year-old woman were seriously injured in the blast and transported by air ambulance to hospitals in the capital. Two other people were rescued.

The blast shook windows of nearby buildings.

“We had just finished eating and we heard a huge explosion,” Rosalba Neri, who lives in the building opposite, told Il Messaggero.

“We thought a plane had crashed. Then we looked and saw the scene: the building was no longer there and all around were smashed windows, broken glass and damaged cars.” 

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi met with relatives of the victims at the scene on via Giacomo della Marca on Wednesday evening.

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ROME

Body of missing American tourist found in Rome’s River Tiber

The body of a missing 21-year-old tourist was found in the River Tiber on Thursday morning, according to media reports.

Body of missing American tourist found in Rome's River Tiber

Elijah Oliphant, from Dallas, Texas, was on holiday with his family in Rome when he went missing several days ago.

Oliphant’s parents reported his disappearance after he left his hotel room shortly after midnight on May 24th and did not return.

Hotel security footage showed him leaving the premises wearing a white undershirt and pyjama bottoms, which he was wearing when he was found.

Oliphant’s corpse was reportedly spotted by passersby near the Ponte Sisto bridge in Rome’s Trastevere district around 10am on Thursday morning. His body was positively identified by his parents.

Members of the fire brigade and river police who recovered the body say there were no obvious signs of violence, but an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death. Trastevere police are reportedly investigating the matter.

The Oliphant family had arrived in Rome for a holiday on May 23rd. When Elijah went missing the following day, his parents launched an urgent appeal to help find their son.

His disappearance was featured on the missing persons television show, Chi l’ha visto (‘Who’s seen them?’) on May 25th.

Several foreigners have been found drowned in the Tiber in recent years, though there are no indication that any of the incidents are linked.

In 2016, the body of 19-year-old American student Beau Solomon was recovered from the river.

Rough sleeper Massimo Galioto was charged involuntary manslaughter in the case, but was ultimately acquitted in 2020.

Prosecutors said that Galioto pushed Solomon in the course of a violent argument. Galioto’s defense team acknowledged that the two had argued but said the student had accidentally slipped.

In May 2019, 37-year-old Imen Chatbouri, a former athletics champion from Tunisia, was found dead in the Tiber after a night out. CCTV footage later showed she had been pushed from the Ponte Sisto bridge.

A then-26-year-old man whose advances she had rejected earlier that evening was convicted of her murder in November 2021.

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