ROME – At least 10 people are dead and four are missing, including two children, from floodwaters triggered by heavy rainfall in central Italy early Friday, authorities said.
The country’s national fire service, Vigili del Fuoco, said nearly 200 firefighters were at work rescuing dozens of people through the night who took refuge on the roofs of houses and trees.
The agency posted videos to Twitter showing responders in the town of Senigallia, in the eastern Marche region, carrying out operations. Another 400 interventions were carried out in the provinces of Ancona and Pesaro-Urbino.
More than 15 inches of rain fell in central Italy as the Misa River, which flows through Senigallia, peaked early Friday morning, the local municipality said on Facebook.
Climatologist Massimiliano Fazzini told Italian state TV that the concentration of rain over four hours, including a heavy 15-minute period, was the most in hundreds of years, the Associated Press reported.
"It was an extreme event, more than an exceptional one,″ he said.
Two children, including a boy swept out of his mother’s arms in Barbara, were among four people still unaccounted for as of late Friday morning, according to the AP.
"It wasn’t a water bomb, it was a tsunami," Riccardo Pasqualini, the mayor of Barbara in the Marche region, told Italian state radio.
In the community of Serra de’ Conti, firefighters also sifted among the mud and fallen trees in the search for missing persons.
Senigallia Mayor Massimo Olivetti closed multiple city offices and schools in the town. Residents were also advised not to use tap water until all checks have been carried out to allow safe consumption.
Italy’s Department of Civil Protection issued an orange alert Thursday for parts of central and southern Italy, including the Campania and Lazio regions. The alert remained in effect Friday as rain and strong winds were expected to continue throughout the day.