UPDATE: 10 killed in flash floods in central Italy

At least 10 people died and four were missing after flash floods hit the central Italian Marche region overnight, officials said on Friday.

UPDATE: 10 killed in flash floods in central Italy
An ambulance passes a damaged car following floods overnight which left at least ten people dead in the province of Ancona, Marche. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

Emergency services provisionally put the death toll at seven earlier on Friday but this rose mid-morning to 10.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi confirmed the toll, while saying it could change, before heading to the town of Ostra near Ancona, one of the places worst hit.

More than 400 millimetres (16 inches) of rain fell there over a few hours on Thursday evening.

One of the four people reported missing was a child travelling in a car. The mother was rescued but the child was washed away by the floodwaters, AGI said.

Water swept through towns and villages, turning streets into rivers and flooding homes, with the worst damage reported in the Ancona area.

READ ALSO: Italy records ‘five times’ more extreme weather events in ten years

All the victims reported so far are in the province of Ancona, according to local media.

The fire brigade said it had rescued dozens of people overnight “who took refuge on roofs and in trees” during the floods.

Another tweet from the fire brigade read: “the search for missing persons continues among mud and felled trees”.

The streets of the port town of Senigallia were turned into rivers, while aerial footage of the inland hamlet of Pianello di Ostra showed streets caked with mud and cars piled up after being swept away.

The wave of bad weather that hit the area “was not expected at these levels, we had no alert in place. The flooding was sudden,” Marche regional councilor for civil protection Stefano Aguzzi told Ansa.

“There was no time to intervene. There are people who may have been on the street or who had gone out not realising the danger.”

Several areas in Ancona were without electricity or telephone connections. Schools were closed on Friday in the affected areas.

Residents clear up and assess the damage after flash flooding in the Italian province of Ancona, Marche. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP.

Draghi announced five million euros in emergency funds for the area and visited Ostra to offer his condolences in person.

“We will do everything possible… you can count on us,” said the premier, who is set to leave office following elections on September 25th.

READ ALSO: Deadly floods force Italy’s politicians to face climate crisis

Speaking in Rome earlier, Draghi also made an explicit link between the flooding and global warming, saying: “We see it concretely in what happened today how the fight against climate change is fundamental.”

Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said its teams were heading to help.

“Very concerned by the growth of extreme weather events,” he said on Twitter.

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‘Winter is starting’: Italy braces for snow and storms as cold snap arrives

Northern Italy woke to freezing temperatures on Friday while Vesuvius was dusted with snow as long-delayed winter weather arrived in Italy.

‘Winter is starting’: Italy braces for snow and storms as cold snap arrives

A cold front arriving from northern Europe brought temperatures as low as minus 18 degrees Celsius in the eastern Alps in the early hours of Friday, while minus 14 was recorded in Garfagnana, and minus 5 in Milan, Turin and inland Sicily.

Snow also fell at higher altitudes in the south overnight, with local residents capturing images of Vesuvius covered in a dusting of snow.

“Winter is starting,” Claudio Cassardo, climatologist at the University of Turin, told newspaper La Repubblica on Friday.

“We will return to normal seasonal temperatures. However, we’re no longer used to the cold and snow”.

While the north in particular shivers in freezing temperatures and snow was forecast for many areas, including at lower altitudes, central and southern regions were warned to expect heavy rain and stormy conditions from Friday and into the weekend.

Italy’s Department for Civil Protection issued a lower-level alert for storms on Friday in parts of five southern Italian regions, including Basilicata and Calabria, and a medium-level amber alert for Campania, where the agency warned of a risk of hailstones and flash floods.

Showers, strong winds and thunderstorms are expected to spread further across the centre-south and to the Adriatic coast by Saturday, when temperatures are again forecast to drop below zero in inland parts of the centre and north.

Weather website Meteo3B predicted temperatures would drop to 0-1 C across much of the north overnight and in the early morning on Saturday.

Forecasts showed the mildest temperatures in the coming days would be in the southeastern region of Puglia and along the southern coasts of Sicily and Calabria, where a steady 8-10 degrees Celsius is expected over the weekend.