Sardinia continues in a state of emergency after Cyclone Cleopatra pummeled the island with around 450 millimeters of rain in just 24 hours on Monday. The death toll has risen to at least 18 people and bridges and cars were swept away in the torrents of water. Thousands have been left homeless.
Las Vegas Guardian Express reported on the “apocalyptic” storm, giving a figure of at least 17 dead. Regrettably the figure has risen to a minimum of 18 dead and around 3,000 people driven from their homes by the floods. Many people are still unaccounted for as searches continue.
Rescuers now estimate that about 20,000 people have been affected by the floods. Experts are putting the blame squarely on poor maintenance of waterways, as well as unregulated construction, for the levels of flooding that were experienced on the island.
Of the dead, 13 were from the province of Olbia, two from Nuoro and one from near Oristano. A Brazilian family consisting of mother, father and two teenagers were drowned when their basement apartment filled with water in Arzachena. Three people were killed when a road bridge collapsed on their car in Olbia. In another incident, a mother and daughter were killed and found in their car after it was caught up and swept away in the floods.
A police officer, attempting to escort an ambulance, was killed when a bridge collapsed on to him. A dead child was found after a frantic search. So it continues, with the death toll likely to increase as rescuers reach the more isolated areas of Sardinia.
The island is still under the state of emergency imposed by Italian Prime Minister, Enrico Letta, on Monday and the government has pledged 20 million euros ($27 million) in aid to Sardinia to assist in the cleanup of the island after the apocalyptic storm. Part of the funds will be used to help displaced people, save lives and to generally make repairs to roads.
People in the area are struggling to grasp the situation and to face what has happened to them.
One resident of Olbia, Francesco Brandano, told the media:
“We managed to open the door with all this water inside, it was just devastating. The kids didn’t have anything, they were naked, naked, they managed to get out by the back stairs.”
“Everything is wet, everything needs to be thrown away. Everything is gone, documents, everything. We haven’t got anything left.”
Another woman in the worst hit city of Olbia described to the Italian media how she watched a “huge wave” of water sweep through her apartment, taking everything with it and pushing her car into the street, as she climbed to safety on the top floor of her building. She says she then experienced “a night of blackouts and sheer terror.”
Around 50 officials from Cagliari’s civil protection agency are assisting with the clean up and have technicians monitoring the safety of bridges in the area.
Meanwhile in other areas of Italy, the iconic St. Mark’s Square in Venice is under high levels of water with tourists needing Wellington boots to navigate in the area. Rome was also hit by heavy rains and more bad weather is expected over the next few days.
Until things are back to normal and under control in Sardinia after the apocalyptic storm, the state of emergency will continue.
By: Anne Sewell
Gazetta del Sud