Torrential rains sweep western Europe

ITALY declared a state of emergency in the north of the country yesterday after flooding and mudslides left at least three people dead in heavy rains that also hit Belgium, Britain, France and Germany.

The state of emergency, which will enable aid to be speeded up to the affected regions of Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta, was decided at a cabinet meeting.

In Piedmont, where three people were killed and one was still missing, schools were closed in the town of Saviglano because of mudslides, and 30 people were evacuated from their homes in Demonte.

A mudslide in Villar Pelice near the city of Turin swept away a house, killing an old man inside it.

A second person was found dead in a car also caught up in the mudslide.

Fifty patients were evacuated from a hospital in Turin.

In France the SNCF train operator closed lines overnight between Turin and Lyon, southeastern France, to avoid accidents after heavy rains.

Road tunnels linking France and Italy were closed to trucks for several hours after parts were affected by a mudslide. Several highways were blocked or closed in the Alpine districts of Savoie and Isere.

In Corsica, two hotels were evacuated overnight due to flooding.

Mudslides and flooding also hit villages and cut secondary roads in eastern France overnight, while other routes were blocked by fallen trees.

Further north meanwhile, streets were turned to rivers of mud in the eastern Belgian city of Liege after a violent storm.

A clean-up operation was under way in southwest Britain yesterday after torrential rain caused flash flooding the previous evening. The worst-hit area was the southern part of the county of Somerset.


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