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Home English One dead, one missing as Italy hit with torrential rain

One dead, one missing as Italy hit with torrential rain


(By Emily Backus)
Rome, January 20 - As one community mourned the
death of their doctor in a flash flood, the search continued
Monday for another man who disappeared near the northern Italian
city of Modena while helping others escape from unrelenting
rains that pelted vast areas of Italy.
Particularly hard hit were the northern regions of
Emilia-Romagna, Liguria and Tuscany, but flooding also hit the
southern city of Naples.
The man vanished Sunday night in the Bastiglia area in the
province of Modena, in Emilia-Romagna, when he fell in the water
while ferrying others in his rubber dinghy.
Evacuation operations on Monday were still underway in
Bastiglia to remove residents from homes surrounded by flooding
from overflowing river banks.
Nearly 600 people were forced to evacuate their homes in
the greater Modena area, with 270 housed in shelters, another
250 housed in hotels and 70 elderly and handicapped in
Workers managed to reinforce the embankment of the nearby
Secchia river with large boulders, while restoration of the
levees of the Aipo river was underway on Monday.
At the same time, swollen and overflowing rivers closed
local roads and bridges throughout the area.
Rain was expected to intensify late Monday in the
Emilia-Romagna region.
Meanwhile, further south, an earthquake Monday morning sent
frightened residents of communities between Molise and Campania
running into the streets, but authorities said there were no
immediate reports of injuries.
The quake, with a magnitude of about 4.2, was felt in the
mountainous area about 200 kilometers southeast of Rome.
The shock of the earthquake, which led to some
precautionary school evacuations, was felt in other communities
as far away as Benevento and Naples.
As well in Naples, flooding from heavy rains was reported
but the worst hit areas were in the country's north.
Italy's northwestern coastal town Bogliasco on Monday
mourned a doctor who drowned in a rush of current emanating from
the Sessarego stream, located between Genoa and Portofino.
A man who had accompanied Dr. Elias Kassabij fought for his
life in a local hospital.
The doctor on Sunday had just examined the man's son, and
the pair were walking toward the doctor's home, when a flash
flood hit both men unexpectedly.
A passerby jumped in and managed to rescue the father,
while the doctor was swept away by the current which was so
forceful it ripped clothing right off the 66-year-old's body.
"We are not used to tragedies of this kind. There was
exceptional precipitation that flooded all of Bogliasco," said
the town's mayor, Luca Pastorino.
"We need to prepare a civil protection plan to prevent
people from endangering themselves," he added.
Liguria's councilor for the environment and civil
protection remarked that the northwestern Italian region has
suffered more than its share of rain-induced disaster in the
recent past.
"Liguria has been wounded again by this wave of strong
rains," said Renata Briano.
"This time, the big rivers have held, but not the small
streams. My thoughts go to the (doctor's) family and my thanks
to the emergency workers who worked throughout the night to find
In Tuscany, firefighters on Monday tackled damage caused by
flooding that forced roughly 20 families to spend the night away
from home in the Lucca area, with condominiums and roads flooded
particularly in the neighboring coastal town of Viareggio.
A new storm front was sweeping in from the western
Mediterranean toward central-southern Italy through Tuesday
morning, while reprieve from the rain was expected in the north
- with the exception of Emilia-Romagna.
Showers were expected to fall again Monday in the mountains
of Lombardy, Veneto and across Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
Meanwhile, volunteers near Modena said they rescued 11
horses, a donkey, sheep, goats and chickens as well as several
dogs from flood waters.

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