Motorists urged to avoid roads, while bridge collapses amid heavy rainfall
Residents in Italy have been urged to stay indoors after flash flooding flooded roads, destroyed homes and closed the country’s busiest bridge.
Firefighters were called in to help rescue people trapped in flooded houses and cars in Venice on Thursday night, and rescue workers were working to evacuate those caught up in the heavy rainfall in the Venetian city.
Roads turned into rivers, a bridge collapsed and helicopters dropped water-filled bags to people trapped in cars on some routes to the city’s famous lagoon area.
Fluid made in flooded sewers overflowed into the river Tiber, setting ablaze sections of the road on the north-east end of Venice.
In Milan, a bridge leading to a street in the centre collapsed. There were no reports of casualties.
The Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, said he would cut short his holiday and return to work.
“I hope that my return will allow us to move forward with the recovery work,” he said.
Miguel Rugolo, mayor of L’Aquila, said the toll of this week’s earthquakes could climb to eight victims.
Italian residents have been urged to stay indoors after flash flooding in Venice. Photograph: Giovanni della Valle/AP
The Italian media said the toll could still rise after three small quakes with magnitudes of 4.1, 4.2 and 4.4 struck Gioia Tauro, a town in central Italy.
Among the hardest hit towns were the medieval villages of Salerno and Norcia in the Umbria region, where many houses were damaged.
The border crossing at Dei Paschi di Siena was closed due to fears that the Salvini would halt traffic there.
Drivers in the northern, heavily industrialized city of Parma also faced long delays as flooded roads cut access to the port city.
Emergency teams were focusing on the Galatina hill in Trani, southwest of Naples, where about 40 residents sheltered from the rain in what some called the “theatre of death” where an old building collapsed into a mountainous ravine.
On Thursday a major earthquake in central Italy killed at least 62 people as it collapsed buildings and triggered fires that destroyed hundreds of homes.
Pope Francis led prayers in St Peter’s Square for the Italian people after “the terrible and severe earthquakes that have hit our country”.