Sardinia hit by deadly cyclone

At least 16 people have been killed in flooding prompted by a cyclone and heavy rain that swept through the Italian island of Sardinia.

A number of people are reported missing after rivers burst their banks, sweeping cars away and causing bridges to collapse.

The worst-hit area appears to be in and around the north-eastern city of Olbia.

Prime Minister Enrico Letta has spoken of a “national tragedy” and a state of emergency is expected to be declared.

Victims

A Brazilian family of four drowned when their basement flat in the town of Arzachena, in the northern part of the island, filled with water. Two children were among the dead.

Three people died when a road bridge collapsed on to their car near Olbia, according to local media.

In a separate incident, a mother and her daughter were found dead in their car after it was swept away by floods.

Among the victims was a police officer who died after a bridge collapsed as he tried to escort an ambulance.

Hundreds of people across the Mediterranean island have been moved from their homes because of the flash flooding caused by Cyclone Cleopatra.

“We’re at maximum alert,” Giorgio Cicalo, an official from Sardinia’s civil protection authority, told Italy’s Rai TV.

“We haven’t seen a situation as extreme as this, perhaps for decades – especially because it’s been across the whole island.”

Reports say flood waters in some areas were up to 3m (10ft) high.

Sardinian Governor Ugo Cappellacci told Italian TV that the situation on the island was “dramatic”.

Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes
Tankers were battered by gale winds and big waves off Cagliari
Flood water gushed down roads and into homes
Rescue workers are looking for a number of people still reported missing

Meanwhile Olbia Mayor Gianni Giovanelli was quoted by Sky TG24 as saying that the city had been hit by an “apocalyptic”‘ storm.

Some city residents used social media to offer shelter to those forced out of their homes.

The BBC Weather Centre says the flooding was caused by a deep area of low pressure that has been sitting over the Mediterranean, bringing sustained heavy rain.

  Further bad weather is expected in the coming days

The unstable conditions are expected move across Italy and further east, bringing further downpours and the threat of flooding, particularly in Venice.

The storm caused extensive damage to farms in Sardinia and disrupted a number of flights to and from mainland Italy.