Cyclone Cleopatra Slams Sardinia, 18 Killed in Massive Flooding

Image: Cyclone Cleopatra Slams Sardinia, 18 Killed in Massive Flooding

Tuesday, 19 Nov 2013 12:32 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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Cyclone Cleopatra slammed into the Mediterranean island of Sardinia on Monday, killing 18 people while leaving hundreds without homes because of heavy rains and flooding.

The storm dropped nearly 18 inches of rain on the island in an hour and a half overnight as rivers overflowed and swept away vehicles as well as swamped homes along the island.

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The rain was expected to continue through Tuesday. A state of emergency declaration was issued by Italy, allowing resources to reach devastated areas, where large portions of the island suffered from muddy flood waters, displacing 2,700 people, Reuters reported.

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta said that $27 million would be made available immediately to emergency relief efforts and that soldiers would be deployed to the region.

"This is a national tragedy," Letta said Tuesday, according to BBC News. "We are focusing on essential operations: saving human lives, assisting displaced people, and clearing road access."

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano told BBC News that he expressed "solidarity with the communities involved" and "heartfelt sympathy to the families of the many victims."

The BBC reported Tuesday that a Brazilian family, including two children, living in Arzachena, a town in the northern part of the island, drowned when their basement flooded. In another incident, rescuers found a mother and daughter dead in their car after it was swept away by flood waters.

A police officer trying to escort an ambulance over a bridge died when that structure collapsed. Some areas, like Olbia in the northeast portion of the island have more than 10 feet of standing water.

"We're at maximum alert," Giorgio Cicalo, an official from Sardinia's civil protection authority, told Italy TV, according to the BBC. "We haven't seen a situation as extreme as this, perhaps for decades — especially because it's been across the whole island."

The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, said in a statement he expressed solidarity with the people involved in the storm.

"I was deeply shocked to learn today of the devastation and the loss of life due to the flooding caused by Cyclone Cleopatra," Barroso said, New Europe reported. "This is a tragic blow to the people of this beautiful island and community."

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