At least ten dead in flood in southern Italy

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At least ten dead in flood in southern Italy
Rescuers search for people missing in flash floods in Pollino National Park, Calabria. Photo: Kontrolab/AFP

At least ten hikers died when a mountain river flooded suddenly in Italy's southern Calabria region, local emergency services said on Tuesday.


Several hiking groups were caught by a torrential deluge in the Raganello river gorge in southern Cosenza province on Monday afternoon. The sudden heavy rains caused the river in the Pollino National Park to flood.

Five people were still missing on Tuesday morning, while 14 had been rescued, Italy's fire department tweeted. Later reports said that three missing hikers had since been found alive.

A statement from the prefecture of Cosenza, in the southern region of Calabria, said there were two groups of 18 hikers at the site.

Italian media identified those killed as six women and four men from different parts of Italy, ranging in age from 27 to 55. One man, a local guide in his early 30s, was named as one of the volunteers who helped rescue stranded holidaymakers from the deadly Rigopiano avalanche in central Italy in January 2017.

Rescuers recover a body. Photo: Kontrolab/AFP
Two of those rescued were children, including an 8-year-old girl with hypothermia who was taken to hospital by helicopter. She was found semi-conscious next to a dead body, reports said.

Powerful lights were being used to help rescuers work under cover of darkness, regional civil protection chief Carlo Tansi said. Water rescuers, divers and helicopters from the fire department are involved in the search and rescue operations. 

A Dutch hiker, quoted in local media, said: "A real avalanche of water came unexpectedly. We did not have time to do anything. I was lucky, it was an incredible thing."

Searching the flooded Raganello river. Photo: Kontrolab/AFP

Earlier on Monday the region experienced several hours of heavy rain and strong winds. Though conditions improved overnight, authorities have warned there is a possibility of storms on Tuesday as well.

The dramatic gorges carved by the Raganello river are only recommended for experienced hikers due to the many challenges posed by the route, which at certain times of the year is rendered off limits, the AGI news agency reported. 

Yet locals told Rai News that it wasn't unusual to see people attempting to tackle the hike in flipflops and beachwear, saying that the deaths were "a tragedy waiting to happen".

Those concerned about people missing or injured in the disaster can call an official information hotline: +39(0)984 8980651.



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