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Muddy search for floods survivors

Italian soldiers and civilian rescue workers have battled knee-deep mud as they searched for survivors after flash floods and mudslides inundated picturesque villages around the coastal areas of Liguria and Tuscany.

Coastguard cutters were also called in following reports that some of the missing may have been swept into the sea by the storm.

At least nine people died and six others are missing.

Many towns are still isolated nearly 48 hours after the storms struck. A military officer told Sky Italia that 500 soldiers were brought in to help in the search operation and to clear roads and bridges.

Villages including Aulla in Tuscany, where two people are confirmed dead and one is listed as missing, were covered by mud which swept into homes and shops.

"In an hour, the work of 10 years was lost," the Rev Giovanni Perrini said as he inspected his parish church and nearby museum filled with mud.

Six of the victims came from Borghetto Vara, a village in Liguria known for its grapes, wines and chestnuts. Floodwater and mud tore through the village which is 45 miles from Genoa and close to the Cinque Terre, a popular tourist area which also suffered damage.

Schools, businesses and shops were closed in many villages, railway services were disrupted and the main road linking Genoa and Livorno was blocked.

Luigi Ribes, a resident of Mulazzo, one of the worst affected towns, said: "Everything was coming down. I was seeing stones, trees, and every possible thing pass by."

Roberto Malaspina, the former mayor of Mulazzo, said three bridges in the town were damaged, with two of them left impassable and the third accessible only by foot. He said the damage to the town's roads and houses amounted to "an apocalypse".


From Belfast Telegraph