Italian authorities have declared a state of emergency in Sardinia after a cyclone struck the Mediterranean island.
At least 18 people are known to have died and thousands have been moved from their homes after winds of up to 125 kilometres an hour and sheets of rain brought devastation. Several people are reported missing.
In the northeastern town of Olbia, the mayor said sudden flooding had burst “like a bomb”. The skies dumped as much rain in an hour and a half as falls on Milan in six months, Gianni Giovanelli added.
The mayor said houses across the area had been left half submerged by the floods and rescuers were still searching for possible victims.
“We’ve just found a dead child we had been searching all night for,” he told Italian television.
A Brazilian family of four were reported drowned after their basement flat filled with water.
Elsewhere cars were swept away, homes were flooded and bridges collapsed as rivers burst their banks.
Italy’s prime minister Enrico Letta called it a “national tragedy”, saying the state of emergency meant extra resources would be made immediately available to reach affected areas.
Flights to and from mainland Italy were disrupted.The storm has been described as the worst for “decades”, with no part of Sardinia being spared.