The Italian city of Bari was still reeling Friday after a night of heavy rainfall turned the surrounding waters into lakes and killed at least six people.
“A monsoon storm that had lashed Italy overnight killed six people in a number of accidents, injured hundreds and led to several road crashes that brought traffic to a standstill,” read a tweet from Bari’s regional police department, adding: “Water levels began to fall at dawn, but a very complex and complicated rescue process is still underway in and around the city.”
Tragically, @albert_houseboo died in the flooding due to a terrible car accident on #SouthSeaRoad! His wife and 2-year-old son were miraculously saved. pic.twitter.com/t6kLmEI0V6 — Domenico Rommelli (@Tosti_0f_Cressa) July 5, 2018
At least seven people were killed in the Bari region, and two more in the central Italian city of Lecce, according to reports from Italy’s ANSA news agency. Firefighters, police and ambulances from both Bari and neighboring cities worked through the night, the BBC reported, rescuing motorists and passengers as the waters receded.
The deaths came after a thunderstorm battered the region on Thursday.
“I call it a thunderstorm-turned-flood,” said Roberto Dago, the deputy director of emergency services for the province of Basilicata, where Bari is located, according to Reuters. “The rains came in a short amount of time, and it overflowed several artificial lakes.”
Four people died in their cars, while another person was killed by a house fire sparked by the downpour, police said. Twelve people were injured, and about 400 residents were evacuated from flooded homes.
One family was lucky enough to escape with their lives after their car hydroplaned off the road and fell into a ravine, AFP reported. The family — including a newborn child — was still clinging to the car when firefighters arrived on the scene.
A resident in the Bologna suburb of Santa Maria Romagna was swept away while trying to clear the flooding, an AFP reporter said.
The rains even invaded the traditionally serene St. Marks Square in the Italian capital, Milan, flooding the ground below the historic diocese of Monte Rosa.
Even the most glamorous vacation destinations weren’t immune from the massive downpour. The Colosseum in Rome was closed to tourists for safety reasons as pedestrians and tourists were trapped on the nearby piazza, with most roads eventually being reopened.
Meanwhile, the Forum of Rome, Europe’s biggest indoor shopping center, was shut and evacuated as rain water mixed with sewage caused the causeway on the lower levels to buckle.