Helicopters, rescuers scour creek bed after Italy flash flood kills 10

Reuters , Tuesday 21 Aug 2018

A rescue worker stands in front of the gorge of Raganello after several people were killed in a mountain gorge flooding, in the municipality of Civita, Calabria, Italy, August 21, 2018 (Photo: Reuters)

Firefighters and emergency workers on Tuesday combed the creek bed downstream from a gorge where sudden heavy rain created a wall of water that swept away tourists on Monday in the southern Italy region of Calabria, killing at least 10 people.

Twenty-three people were rescued after being caught by the rush of water, rocks and mud, and many were being treated in local hospitals, the civil protection agency said.

Three people thought to be missing were found, so no one was officially unaccounted for.

"The people thought to be missing have been traced," the fire department said on Twitter.

But precautionary searches were continuing for people possibly still there since the gorge is open to the general public and visitors are not required to register.

"Since no one keeps track of the number of people in the gorge at any one time, we can't yet exclude that someone else was there," said Piefrancesco Demilito of the civil protection agency.

The Raganello creek, part of the Pollino National Park, runs through the narrow gorge, which is one kilometre (0.8 miles) deep with sheer rock walls that are only about four metres (13 ft) wide in some places.

Dozens of people were exploring the gorge when a storm dumped heavy rain upstream, and the narrow canyon funneled the runoff into a raging wall of water and debris that engulfed some hikers and sent others scrambling to higher ground.

Meteorologists had warned of possible heavy rains in the area.

The civil protection agency revised down the death toll to 10 from 11, a number announced erroneously earlier on Tuesday.

All of the victims were Italian, Demilito said. Some bodies were found several kilometres downstream from where they were when the flood hit.

Squads of rescuers used spotlights in search-and-rescue operations overnight, and helicopters took to the air at first light. The disaster followed on the heels of a a motorway bridge collapse in northern Italy that killed 43.

"Our entire country is profoundly sad for this new tragedy that caused deaths and injuries in the Pollino Park," Italian President Sergio Mattarella said in a statement.

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