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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.

The body of a missing student was found in Rome's River Tiber on Thursday.
The body of a missing student was found in Rome's River Tiber on Thursday. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP)

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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ROME

VIDEO: Huge fire breaks out at Rome’s Cinecitta studios

A fire broke out on Monday at Rome's legendary Cinecitta film studios, destroying a set but causing no injuries, emergency services said.

VIDEO: Huge fire breaks out at Rome's Cinecitta studios

Three teams of firefighters were on the site southeast of the Italian capital, which in its heyday was frequented by some of the country’s greatest stars, from Federico Fellini to Sophia Loren.

“A fire has broken out in an area where a set was being decommissioned,” a spokesman for Cinecitta told AFP, adding that nobody was injured.

READ ALSO: Italy is burning – but many wildfires could be prevented

Firefighters said “much of the papier-mache reconstruction has been destroyed” on the affected set, which depicted Renaissance Florence, but that the flames were limited and under control.

Local residents posted photos and video to social media showing thick clouds of smoke above the complex.

The fire disrupted filming of a Charlize Theron movie, the sequel to Netflix film ‘The Old Guard’, according to production coordinator Natalia Barbosa.

She told AFP the fire grew rapidly amid high winds and soaring temperatures and the set was evacuated as a precaution.

“We’ve lost two days of filming,” she said.

It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, although much of Italy is a tinderbox this summer due to heatwaves and a severe drought.

Cinecitta suffered a major fire in August 2007, in a warehouse where the sets of television blockbuster ‘Rome’ were stored, before spreading to other buildings in the vast complex.

Cinecitta – which means ‘city of cinema’ in Italian – has been the backdrop of more than 3,000 films, including 51 Oscar winners.

The studios were opened in 1937 to churn out propaganda for the Fascist government of Benito Mussolini.

They were later used to make such classics as William Wyler’s ‘Ben-Hur’ in 1959 and Fellini’s 1960 ‘La Dolce Vita’.

In recent decades, major productions have become more scarce, although the studios are planning a major makeover using money from the European Union’s post-pandemic recovery fund.

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