Storm Ciaran brings record rainfall to Italy as European death toll rises to 14

People make their way on a flooded street in Campi di Bisenzio, in the central Italian Tuscany region (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
People make their way on a flooded street in Campi di Bisenzio, in the central Italian Tuscany region (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Record-breaking rain has produced floods in a vast stretch of Italy’s Tuscany region as Storm Ciaran pushed into the country, trapping residents in their homes, inundating hospitals and overturning cars.

At least six people in Italy and one person in Albania were killed on Friday, taking the storm’s death toll to 14 across Europe this week.

Throughout the day, the storm brought more death and destruction as it moved eastwards across the continent.

Italy Floods
Firefighters rescue a resident in Campi di Bisenzio, Tuscany (Gregorio Borgia/AP)

In Albania, police said a motorist died when he lost control of his car, which slid and hit barriers. Many roads in the country were flooded, including in the capital Tirana.

Huge waves pounded the Adriatic shores of the Balkans, and strong winds uprooted trees and ripped off roofs. Ferries connecting Croatia’s islands with the coastline were halted.

Italian Civil Protection authorities said nearly 8in of rain fell in a three-hour period, from the coastal city of Livorno to the inland valley of Mugello, and caused riverbanks to overflow.

Video showed at least a dozen cars being swept away down a flooded road.

Tuscany governor Eugenio Giani said six people had died there in the storm, which dumped an amount of rainfall not recorded in the past 100 years.

Italy Floods
An aerial view of the Prato area of Tuscany (Vigili del Fuoco/AP)

“There was a wave of water bombs without precedence,” he told Italian news channel Sky TG24.

“If the conditions are different than 20 years ago, it is obvious to everyone,” Nello Musumeci, the government’s minister for civil protection, told Sky TG24, noting that weather systems in Italy have become more tropical.

The dead in Tuscany included an 85-year-old man found in the flooded ground floor of his home near the city of Prato, north of Florence, and an 84-woman who died while trying to remove water from her home in the same area, according to Italian news agency Ansa.

The other victims were a couple who had been missing near the town of Vinci and a person in Livorno province. Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera said on Friday evening that the wife of the man whose body was found earlier in the town near Prato also died.

At least two people are missing in Tuscany, along with an off-duty firefighter reported missing in the mountains of Veneto, north of Venice. Other regions were on high alert and authorities warned that the storm was heading towards southern Italy.

Italy Floods
A flooded street of Campi di Bisenzio (Gregorio Borgia/AP)

At least 48,000 utility customers were without electricity, transport and infrastructure minister Matteo Salvini said. High-speed train service between Florence and Milan were affected as well as smaller rail lines in Tuscany.

Ciaran left at least seven people dead as it swept across Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany on Thursday. The storm devastated homes, caused travel mayhem and cut power to a vast number of people.

As the storm pushed through Italy, it flooded at least four hospitals, including in Pisa and Mugello. Throughout Tuscany, train lines and highways were disrupted and schools were closed.

Hundreds of people were unable to get home, including about 150 stranded in Prato after a train line was suspended on Thursday night. Around 40,000 people were without electricity on Friday.

“A blow to the stomach, a pain that brings tears. But even after an evening and night of devastation, we are pulling up our sleeves to clean and bring our city back to normality,” Prato mayor Matteo Biffoni posted on social media.

Italy Floods
Record-breaking rain provoked floods in a vast stretch of Tuscany (Gregorio Borgia/AP)

In Austria’s southern Carinthia province, which borders Italy and Slovenia, wind and heavy rain on Thursday night led to landslides, blocked roads and power cuts. About 1,600 households were without electricity early on Friday, the Austria Press Agency reported.

The storm receded in northern France and the Atlantic coast on Friday, but heavy rains continued in some regions as emergency workers cleared away debris from the day before.

Meanwhile, Corsica in the Mediterranean faced unusually fierce winds on Friday — up to 87mph — and regions in the Pyrenees in the south west were under flood warnings.

More than half a million French households remained without electricity for a second day, mainly in the western region of Brittany. Trains were halted in several areas and many roads remained closed.

French President Emmanuel Macron travelled on Friday to storm-ravaged areas of Brittany, and Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne was traveling to hard-hit areas of Normandy.