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Two vanish in flooding caused by rain pelting Italy

Man near Modena, doctor on Ligurian coast swept away by currents

20 January, 13:12
Two vanish in flooding caused by rain pelting Italy (ANSA) - Rome, January 20 - The search continued Monday for a man near the northern Italian city of Modena who disappeared helping others escape flooding from unrelenting rains that have pelted vast areas of Italy, particularly in the northern regions of Emilia-Romagna, Liguria and Tuscany.

The man vanished Sunday night in the Bastiglia area in the province of Modena, in Emilia-Romagna, when he fell in the water while ferrying others in his rubber dinghy. Evacuation operations on Monday were still underway in Bastiglia to remove residents from homes surrounded by flooding from overflowing river banks. Nearly 600 people were forced to evacuate their homes in the greater Modena area, with 270 housed in shelters, another 250 housed in hotels and 70 elderly and handicapped in hospitals. Sunday night workers managed to reinforce the embankment of the nearby Secchia river with large boulders, while restoration of the levees of the Aipo river were underway on Monday, while swollen and overflowing rivers closed local roads and bridges throughout the area.

Rain is expected to intensify late Monday in the Emilia-Romagna region.

Meanwhile, Italy's northwestern coastal town Bogliasco on Monday mourned a doctor who drowned in a rush of current emanating from the Sessarego stream, located between Genoa and Portofino.

A man who had accompanied the doctor fought for his life in a local hospital.

The doctor on Sunday had just examined the man's son, and the pair were walking toward the doctor's home, when a flood hit both men unexpectedly.

A passerby jumped in and managed to rescue the father, while the doctor was swept away by the current.

"We are not used to tragedies of this kind. There was exceptional precipitation that flooded all of Bogliasco," said the town's mayor, Luca Pastorino.

"We need to prepare a civil protection plan to prevent people from endangering themselves," he added. Liguria's councilor for the environment and civil protection remarked that the northwestern Italian region has suffered more than its share of rain-induced disaster in the recent past.

"Liguria has been wounded again by this wave of strong rains," said Renata Briano. "This time, the big rivers have held, but not the small streams. My thoughts go to the (doctor's) family an my thanks to the emergency workers who worked throughout the night to find him". In Tuscany, firefighters on Monday tackled damage caused by flooding that forced roughly 20 families to spend the night away from home in the Lucca area, with condominiums and roads flooded particularly in the neighboring coastal town of Viareggio. A new storm front is sweeping in from the western Mediterranean toward central-southern Italy over the next 24 hours, while reprieve from the rain is expected in the north - with the exception of Emilia-Romagna. Showers are expected to fall again Monday in the mountains of Lombardy, Veneto and across Friuli-Venezia Giulia.