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Two hospitalised as wildfire breaks out near Rome

Thick clouds of smoke were reported over the Italian capital on Monday afternoon as a large wildfire took hold on the north-western edge of the city.

Two hospitalised as wildfire breaks out near Rome
A firefighter sprays water as a wildfire rages near Rome. File photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP

Photos and video taken by Rome residents on Wednesday afternoon show thick clouds of smoke, with the fire visible from the western side of the city’s ring road, or GRA (Grande Raccordo Anulare).

Firefighters are working to contain the blaze, which is reportedly spreading in the area between the major roads Via Aurelia and Via di Casalotti.

A mother and her baby were taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation while 35 others were treated at the scene, according to local news reports.

Several homes and a summer camp have so far been evacuated, according to reports.

Explosions were heard as the fire reached warehouses in an industrial area west of the capital, reports Rai News, thought to be caused as the fire reached dozens of gas cylinders kept at a campervan storage facility.

The fire brigade said in a tweet that several teams were at the scene of the explosions.

Firefighters said the blaze was becoming less intense at around 5pm on Monday, but that it was still spreading due to high winds.

A prolonged heatwave and a severe drought have caused extremely dry conditions across much of Italy, including Lazio, the region around Rome.

READ ALSO: Italian wildfires ‘three times worse’ than average as heatwave continues

This story is being updated…

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ROME

‘Bank robber’ rescued in Rome after tunnel collapses

Four people were arrested in Rome after a suspected would-be bank robber was rescued from a tunnel under a road, police said on Friday.

'Bank robber' rescued in Rome after tunnel collapses

An Italian man had to be rescued after becoming trapped in a collapsed tunnel near the Vatican, suspected of being part of a gang burrowing its way to a nearby bank.

Firefighters spent eight hours digging him out from under a road in the west of Rome, before he was finally freed on Thursday evening and taken to hospital.

“Two people from Naples were arrested for resisting a public official and two, from Rome, for damage” to public property, a police spokesman told AFP.

The rescued man, one of the two Romans, remains in hospital, he said without giving an update on his condition.

“We are still investigating, we do not exclude that they are thieves, it is one of the theories,” he said.

For Italian newspapers, however, the motive was clear, with reports noting the tunnel was found near a bank ahead of the August 15th long weekend, when residents traditionally head out of town and much of Rome is left empty.

“The hole gang,” headlined newspapers Repubblica and Corriere della Sera, while La Stampa said: “They dig a tunnel to rob a bank, and one of them is buried underground.”

Other reports referred to the suspected burglar as l’uomo-talpa, or ‘mole man’.

An AFP reporter at the scene on Thursday saw the man brought out alive on a stretcher, after a day-long operation involving dozens of emergency service workers using mechanical diggers.

The tunnel began underneath an empty shop that had recently been rented.

“We all thought that the people there were renovating the place. So we had no suspicions and we did not hear noises either,” a resident, Michele, who lives in the same building told AFP.

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