Rescue op after Sardinia floods gets under way
Rescue workers on Thursday were continuing a massive clean-up operation in and around the Sardinian capital of Cagliari after heavy flooding on Wednesday killed three people and left two others missing.
Civil protection chief Guido Bertolaso visited the worst-hit town of Capoterra, 15 km from Cagliari, where heavy rain caused a river to burst its banks, making flooding even worse.
Around 200 families have not yet been able to return to their homes, while electricity and telephone lines are still down.
''First of all we must restore (domestic) living conditions and find the missing,'' said Bertolaso, who added that he would ask the government to call a state of natural disaster in southern Sardinia at the next cabinet meeting.
The region has made 6.5 million euros available for restoring roads and bridges, while a further 20 million euros will be sought.
Police are still searching for a 54-year-old man who was washed away in his car with his mother-in-law when a bridge collapsed. The body of the 77-year-old woman was found on Wednesday.
A 51-year-old teacher is also missing.
Two other people are confirmed dead: an 85-year-old woman who was found dead in the flooded basement of her house in Capoterra, and a 66-year-old man who was killed in Sestu, 10 km from Cagliari, as he tried to get into the passenger seat of a car that was swept away by fast-moving flood water.
A man reported missing after last being seen on the roof of a stables returned home safely on Thursday, explaining that he had stayed to help the horses until the water levels dropped.
Around 80 mm of rain per hour fell in the region for six hours.
Police said they had found salt-water fish in some flooded houses after rain and river water pouring out towards the sea had been pushed back in land by the tide.