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Palermo floods: two drowned in heaviest rain since 1790

Sicilian capital hit by flash floods as two people drown in underpass.

Two people have died after being trapped in their car in a flooded underpass in Palermo, the capital of Sicily, during the most violent rainstorm since 1790, reports Italian news agency ANSA.

The two victims drowned in the Viale della Regione underpass after their car got stuck and was submerged by water on the evening of 15 July.

The rain, which fell intensely for several hours, caused widespread flooding in Palermo and resulted in the hospitalisation of two small children – the youngest of whom is nine months – for hypothermia.

The children were trapped in a car with their parents in the same submerged underpass, as motorists left their vehicles to stand on car roofs or swim to safety through the water and mud.

As roads turned to rivers, firefighters worked tirelessly to save people and police handed out blankets and thermal sheets from hospitals to those rescued.

Palermo mayor Leoluca Orlando says the city did not receive any warning of the violent rainfall, with no weather alert issued by the civil protection agency in advance.

“Over a metre of rain has fallen in Palermo in less than two hours” – said Orlando – “The most violent rain in the history of the city since at least 1790, equal to that which falls in a year.”

Orlando said that if the city had received advance warning “procedures would have been activated which, despite the extraordinary nature of today’s events, could have mitigated the risks.”

from Wanted in Rome – Environment news in Rome


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