ROME • At least five people died in violent rainstorms sweeping across Italy yesterday, with the Tuscan city of Livorno taking the brunt of the flooding, fire services said.
Four people from the same family were found dead in a flooded house in the city, where 40cm of rainfall in four hours transformed streets into rivers and washed away cars.
The Corriere Della Sera daily said the dead were a little girl, her parents and a grandparent.
A fifth body was found in an area devastated by landslides. Three other people were missing, the fire brigade said.
"The situation is very difficult, it's critical. We fear a disaster," Livorno Mayor Filippo Nogarin said.
Italy's civil protection service issued a code orange alert for Florence as the storms, which began in northern Italy overnight, swept down the country towards the south. Underpasses were closed as a precaution in the capital Rome.
Coldiretti, Italy's main agricultural organisation, said the situation was made worse as the bad weather came hard on the heels of a drought which had left the land drier than usual and unable to soak up the rains.
Rainfall in Tuscany, in particular, had been down 57 per cent this summer, it said.
"The tropicalisation of the climate is causing an increase in extreme weather events, with heatwaves, heavy cloudbursts and violent hailstorms... damaging the national agricultural production," said Coldiretti.
It put the cost of the damage at more than €14 billion (S$22.7 billion) in the last 10 years.