Roads were flooded and railway lines blocked when Cyclone Apollo approached the Italian island of Sicily on Friday after a week of deadly storms.
Three people have already died this week and the regional leader has told people on the island to stay home to avoid what has been described as a “doctor” or Mediterranean hurricane.
Storms, torrential rains and floods hit the municipalities of Augusta and Syracuse.
Emergency services rescued dozens of people from homes damaged by the storm.
Eight months of rain fell on Sicily within eight hours, civil protection volunteers said, while Apollo devastated the south and east coast.
The emergency services have dealt with hundreds of requests for help due to the flooding of the roads in the two large cities on the south-east coast.
According to what was reported by Rai TV, some areas of the island recorded rainfall of up to 150 mm in just six hours. A road was interrupted by a landslide.
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Routes in and out of Augusta were flooded as rivers broke their banks.
Residents shared images of flooded streets on social media. “This is the situation in my city,” said one. The entrances and exits of the city were blocked and rain was falling non-stop, he added.
This is the situation in my city, Augusta province of Syracuse.
Access and exits from the city are blocked.
It has been raining continuously since tonight.#medicine #Sicily #bad weather # 29 October pic.twitter.com/MR0IEmMXMJ
– lamenteastratta (@lamenteastratta) October 29, 2021
Augusta Mayor Giuseppe Di Mare said the country’s road network was “on its knees”.
“If you have to go out for non-essential reasons, be careful and avoid areas where there is water,” he said.
Sicilian President Nello Musumeci invited people to stay home and wait for the weather to improve.
The local hospital in Augusta is flooded, as is the hospital further upstream in Catania. According to a local reporter, six babies were born there during the night as water seeped into the hospital rooms.
Civil protection officers rescued a family on a boat when their home was flooded.
Despite all the floods, Cyclone Apollo was still several hours away from reaching the island on Friday.
Scientists say climate change caused by human activity is making these extreme weather events more frequent and intense.
Three days earlier it was Catania that suffered the impact of the flood, with the water gushing into the historic center of the city, transforming its central Via Etnea into a river.
Mayor Salvo Pogliese said the east of the island is experiencing exceptional weather events that have been “unprecedented” in their intensity.
Three people died in the flood. A 53-year-old man drowned after exiting his car in high water in Gravina, north of Catania.
Another man was found on Monday and his wife’s body was found some distance away on Thursday.
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