One killed in flash floods in Rome

Thursday 20 October 2011 19.33
A 32-year-old man drowned in his basement apartment
A 32-year-old man drowned in his basement apartment

One person has died and another is missing after a storm struck Rome and caused flash floods, closed metro lines, immobilised road traffic and delayed some flights.

Firefighters recovered the body of a 32-year-old Sri Lankan immigrant who drowned in his flooded basement apartment.

Emergency workers are still searching for another person missing near Ostia, a town on the coast near Rome.

Members of the paramilitary carabinieri rescued a family that got trapped in their basement flat in the afternoon. Elsewhere, a lift collapsed in the north of the capital but no-one was hurt.

Police reported receiving more than 2,000 calls as homes, shops and vehicles were flooded.

Both the capital's metro lines were heavily disrupted, but stations stayed open to provide shelter to commuters and tourists caught in the downpour.

As the electrical storm continued, trains running between the city and Rome's Fiumicino Airport were delayed. Flights out of the airport were also held up for periods of up to 30 minutes.

Cars with flooded engines blocked traffic in the capital's cobbled streets around the President's Palace and the Sapienza University.

Mayor of Rome Gianni Alemanno said he would declare "a state of emergency" but reassured citizens that the rain should ease up, significantly reducing the risk that the city's Tiber river would burst its banks.

"Today's events are exceptional, we have had episodes of this type on only two other occasions in the last ten years," he said, adding that 74mm of rain had fallen in 90 minutes.