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Archive for Wednesday, October 18, 2000

Floods swamp northern Italy

October 18, 2000

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— Italy hurried more than 15,000 people from the path of two raging rivers Tuesday as floodwaters that wreaked death in Alpine towns bore down on the medieval villages and cities of the northern Italian plains.

The death toll in Italy and Switzerland rose to 25, with the mud-caked bodies of a 1-year-old Italian boy and a woman believed to be his mother among the latest uncovered. A total of 21 people in the two countries were missing and feared dead.

On Tuesday, emergency crews evacuated whole villages in the paths of the Po, Italy's longest river, and the Ticino that feeds into it from the Alps.

"Even those who were reluctant to leave their homes, like the elderly, eventually were convinced," said the Rev. Pier Luigi Rossi, one of a few people still in the riverside village of San Rocco al Porto on Tuesday afternoon. Water was climbing within inches of the sandbags newly lining the Po, a few steps from Rossi's church. He too was leaving soon.

The Po already had burst its banks at some points. By Tuesday night, the flood crest was passing the old trade town of Piacenza.

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