At least five people have died in Tuscany, Italy, amid widespread flooding, local officials said on Friday, after Storm Ciaran swept into the country with torrential rains overnight on a path of destruction across Western Europe.
Ciaran left a trail of damage and a number of deaths after it made landfall in northwestern France with record-breaking winds late on Wednesday and moved north. Casualties were reported in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain on Thursday, along with flooding and damage.
On Friday, the president of the Tuscany region, Eugenio Giani, said that nearly eight inches of rain had fallen there in only three hours, the equivalent to what the area typically receives in “the entire month of November.” In a post on social media, he wrote that the government had declared a state of emergency in Tuscany.
Most of the victims died from floodwaters entering their homes or cars, according to the local authorities, who said on Friday that two people were missing.
The worst-hit area was northwest of Florence, where the Bisenzio River and smaller creeks overflowed. Floodwaters washed away cars and inundated three hospitals, along with homes and some public buildings. Schools in parts of Tuscany were closed on Friday, and train lines and highways experienced disruptions.
Firefighters on inflatable boats helped evacuate residents in parts of Tuscany on Friday, as winds with gusts of more than 70 miles per hour continued to hit the coast and forecasters predicted more rain.
Matteo Biffoni, the mayor of Prato, posted pictures on Facebook of rising water, overturned cars and flooded health buildings in the city, which is north of Florence. The scenes were a “shock” and “a blow to the stomach,” he wrote in a post on Friday.
“But even after an evening and night of devastation,” he added, “we are pulling up our sleeves to clean and bring our city back to normality.”
Italy has been hit hard by torrential rains and floods in recent years. In May, widespread flooding in the northern region of Emilia-Romagna caused 15 deaths and left thousands of people homeless.
A landslide caused by heavy rains killed 11 residents last year on the southern Italian island of Ischia.
Although it is difficult to attribute individual weather events directly to climate change, scientists say that a warming planet worsens extreme rainfall in many storms.