Italy river surge kills nine in home

The flooded house where nine people of the same family died after a small river burst its banks in Casteldaccia near Palermo on the southern Italian island of Sicily.Image copyright

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The flooded house where the tragedy occurred

Two families have been wiped out in Italy after a river burst its banks submerging their house in Sicily.

Nine people died in the incident in Casteldaccia – from children aged one, three and 15 to their grandparents. Only three people who were outside the house at the time survived.

Three other people died when their cars were swept away elsewhere in Sicily.

Days of heavy rain and winds have killed at least 17 other people in Italy, mainly in the north and west.

Some of the worst damage was to roads around Belluno in the northern Veneto region, after days of storms had dislodged mud, rocks and water.

Six regions remain under alert – from Veneto to Sicily and Sardinia in the south.

The tragedy in Casteldaccia occurred overnight on Saturday.

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Media captionTrees were torn down across a swathe of northern Italy

Twelve members of two families had gathered to spend the night when water from river Milicia swamped the house.

Three of those on the premises had lucky escapes.

The father of one of the children – and another child – had gone out on an errand at the time. Of the other 10, one was outside and survived climbing on to a tree.

In addition to the three children, the dead included the mother of two of them, two grandparents, their son and daughter, and another woman.

One of the neighbours described the scene minutes before the incident.

“I heard the dogs barking. It was around 22:30 (21:30 GMT). I told my husband to go out to see what was happening. He opened the door and water filled the house,” said Maria Concetta Alfano.

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Water from a river that had never posed a problem before swamped the house

Town mayor Giovanni Di Giacinto spoke of a “frightening tragedy” – given the Milicia was only a small river that had never had much water.

“It has never presented a threat to Casteldaccia, and it wasn’t a very rainy day, anyway,” he added.

Elsewhere in Sicily:

  • A man and a woman died when their hired car was swept away in Cammarata
  • A petrol station worker’s body was found in his jeep in Vicari
  • And rescuers are looking for a doctor who was heading into Corleone hospital to start his shift. His car has been found abandoned in a part of the road hit by flooding and landslides.

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Veneto region in the north remains under alert after days of rain and winds

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An electric pylon in the northern province of Belluno was twisted by the storms