Devastating floods in central Italy caused by heavy rains have killed at least ten and left four missing.
Dozens of survivors who scrambled onto rooftops or up trees were awaiting rescue early Friday.
“It wasn’t a water bomb, it was a tsunami," Riccardo Pasqualini, the mayor of Barbara, told Italian state radio of the sudden downpour on Thursday evening that devastated his town in the Marche region, near the Adriatic Sea.
He said the flooding left the 1,300 residents of Barbara without drinking water and with poor phone service.
A mother and her young daughter were among those missing after trying to escape the flood, the mayor told the Italian news agency ANSA.
Two children, including a boy swept out of his mother’s arms in Barbara were also among them as of late Friday morning.
While firefighters reported at least seven confirmed deaths and three people missing, RAI state TV quoted the local prefect’s office as saying there were 10 confirmed deaths.
Around 50 people were treated at hospitals for injuries.
Many of the 300 firefighters have been deployed on rescue missions to help survivors, with dozens of people who had been trapped in cars or had clambered up to rooftops or climbed trees to escape rising floodwaters brought to safety.
“It was an extreme event, more than an exceptional one," climatologist Massimiliano Fazzini told Italian state TV.
He estimated that the amount of rain that fell over four hours was the most in hundreds of years.
Over that time, the region was deluged with the amount of rainfall it usually receives in six months, state TV said.
Some of the worst flooding struck in and around the town of Senigallia, where a river overflowed its banks.
Hamlets in the hills near the Renaissance tourist town of Urbino were also inundated when fast-moving rivers of water, mud and debris rushed through streets.