Tag Archives: floods

Landslides, floods kill at least 41 in Indonesia, displace thousands

Landslides and flash floods from torrential rains in eastern Indonesia killed at least 41 people and displaced thousands, the country’s disaster relief agency said Sunday. More than two dozen others were still missing.

Mud tumbled down from surrounding hills onto dozens of homes in Lamenele village shortly after midnight on Adonara island in East Nusa Tenggara province. Rescuers recovered 35 bodies and at least five injured, said Lenny Ola, who heads the local disaster agency.

Flash flooding killed at least six people elsewhere, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency. Relief efforts were hampered by power cuts, blocked roads covered in thick mud and debris as well as the remoteness of the area surrounded by choppy seas and high waves, said the agency’s spokesperson, Raditya Jati.

Seasonal downpours cause frequent landslides and floods, killing dozens each year in Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains.

Indonesia’s disaster agency lowered the death toll late Sunday to 41 — down from 44 — after search and rescue team reverified victims’ data. At least 27 people were still missing.

The bodies of three people were recovered after being swept away by floods in Oyang Bayang village, where 40 houses were also destroyed, Ola said. Hundreds of people fled submerged homes, some of which were carried off by the floodwaters.

In another village, Waiburak, three people were killed and seven remained missing when overnight rains caused rivers to burst their banks, sending muddy water into large areas of East Flores district, Ola said. Four injured people were being treated at a local health clinic.


People inspect damaged buildings at a village hit by flash flooding in East Flores. (Ola Adonara/The Associated Press)

Hundreds of people were involved in rescue efforts, but distribution of aid and relief was hampered by power cuts, blocked roads and the remoteness of the area that’s surrounded by choppy waters and high waves, said the National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson, Raditya Jati.

Authorities were still collecting information about the full scale of casualties and damage in the affected areas, Jati said.

Photos released by the agency showed rescuers and police and military personnel taking residents to shelters, bridges cut while roads were covered by thick mud and debris.

Severe flooding also has been reported in Bima, a town in the neighbouring province of West Nusa Tenggara, forcing nearly 10,000 people to flee, Jati said.

In January, 40 people died in two landslides in West Java province.

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Iota weakens to storm in Central America but death toll rises as rain, floods bash region

 Unleashing torrential floods even as it weakened, Storm Iota churned through Central America on Tuesday, causing swollen rivers to burst their banks, flipping roofs onto streets and killing at least nine people across the region.

The strongest storm on record to reach Nicaragua, Iota struck the coast late on Monday, bringing winds of nearly 249 km/h and flooding villages still reeling from the impact of Hurricane Eta two weeks ago.

But by Tuesday night, the winds had fallen to 80 km/h as Iota weakened to a tropical storm but heavy rainfall continued, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Iota was drenching already saturated towns and villages as it moved inland over southern Honduras and as authorities reported many people missing with some of the worst-hit areas still cut off.

“We’re flooded everywhere, the rain lasted almost all night and now it stops for an hour then comes back for two to three hours,” said Marcelo Herrera, mayor of Wampusirpi, a municipality in the interior of northeast Honduras crossed by rivers and streams.


Women walk in the rain brought by Hurricane Iota, in La Lima, Honduras on Tuesday. The Honduran government closed bridges and highways across the country on Tuesday, while opening more than 600 shelters where some 13,000 residents sought refuge. (Delmer Martinez/The Associated Press)

“We need food and water for the population, because we lost our crops with Eta,” he told Reuters.

The Honduran government closed bridges and highways across the country on Tuesday, while opening more than 600 shelters where some 13,000 residents sought refuge.

The double punch of Eta and Iota marked the first time two major hurricanes had formed in the Atlantic basin in November since records began. The Nicaraguan port of Puerto Cabezas, still partly flooded and strewn with debris left by Eta, again bore the brunt of the hit.

Frightened residents huddled in shelters.

“We could die,” said Inocencia Smith at one of the shelters. “There is nothing to eat at all,” she added, noting Eta had destroyed local farms.

Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo said at least six people had died as they were dragged down by raging rivers.

The wind tore the roof off a makeshift hospital. Patients in intensive care were evacuated, including two women who gave birth during the first rains on Monday, the Nicaraguan officials said.

‘In the hands of God’

Two people died on Providencia island, part of Colombia’s Caribbean archipelago near the coast of Central America, after it was clipped by Iota, President Ivan Duque said on Tuesday evening.

Nearly all of the infrastructure on Providencia — home to some 6,000 people — had been damaged or destroyed.

Panama’s government said a person had died in its western Ngabe-Bugle region due to conditions caused by the storm.

A resident of Brus Laguna on the Honduran coast told local radio a boy was killed by a falling tree, although the mayor, Teonela Wood, said she had no reports of fatalities.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said flooding from Iota risked causing disaster after Eta.


Two people died on Providencia island, part of Colombia’s Caribbean archipelago near the coast of Central America, after it was clipped by Iota. In this photo released by the Presidency of Colombia, President Ivan Duque, second left, tours the island on Tuesday. (Nicolas Galeano/Colombia Presidential Press Office/The Associated Press)

“We are very concerned about the potential for deadly landslides in these areas as the soil is already completely saturated,” IFRC spokesman Matthew Cochrane told a media briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.

About 100,000 Nicaraguans and Hondurans had been evacuated from their homes, authorities said.

Iota was about 56 kilometres southeast of the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, the NHC said, moving west at 19 km/h where it could provoke “catastrophic flash flooding and mudslides.”

The center added that Iota could dump up to 76 centimetres of rain in some areas.

“We are in the hands of God. If I have to climb up trees, I’ll do it,” said Jaime Cabal Cu, a farmer in Guatemala’s Izabal province. “We don’t have food, but we are going to wait here for the hurricane that we’re asking God to stop from coming.” 

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2 killed, 24 missing in severe floods in Italy and France

Flooding from record rains in the mountainous region that spans France and Italy killed two people in Italy and left at least 24 people in the two countries missing Saturday.

A storm that moved overnight across southeastern France and then northern Italy caused major flooding on both sides of the border, destroying bridges, blocking roads and isolating communities.


In Italy, a firefighter was killed during a rescue operation in the mountainous northern region of Val d’Aosta. Another body was found in Vercelli province, near where a man had been swept away by flood waters late Friday.

A total of 16 people were reported missing in Italy, all but one travelers in cars on the Col de Tende high mountain pass between France and Italy, according to civil protection authorities.

They include two people from Germany driving with their 11-year-old and six-year-old grandchildren, and a pair of brothers returning from France.


A building collapses into the river Cervo in Limone Piemonte, Italy, on Saturday. (Vigili del Fuoco/Handout via Reuters)

The spokesperson for Italy’s firefighters said a search was ongoing for a missing shepherd who was pulled into flood waters on Col de Tende. His brother managed to grab onto a tree and was saved, while authorities were searching on the French side for the shepherd.

Firefighter spokesperson Luca Cari said he suspects the other people reported missing in Italy have lost phone contact, but at the moment they are not thought to be in imminent danger.

The situation at the tunnel on the high mountain pass is complicated by the fact that French emergency responders cannot access their side due to flood damage, Cari said. Italian firefighters were searching the French side for people who may have been blocked.

Unrelenting rainfall overnight hit levels not seen since 1958 in northern Italy’s Piedmont region, where as much as 630 millimetres of rain fell in a 24-hour period, according to the Italian civil protection agency.

Hundreds of rescue operations were underway. Eleven campers were saved in Vercelli province, where floodwaters hit 20-year highs. And Alpine rescue squads have evacuated by foot seven people who were in houses cut off by flooding at Terme di Valdieri; some had to be carried on stretchers due to the muddy conditions and accumulation of detritus.


People clean up mud caused by flooding in Ventimiglia, Italy, on Saturday. (Federico Scoppa/AFP via Getty Images)

On the other side of the border, in southeastern France, almost a year’s average rainfall fell in less than 12 hours in the mountainous area surrounding the city of Nice. Nice mayor Christian Estrosi said over 100 homes were destroyed or severely damaged in the area.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex, who flew over the area in an helicopter, confirmed that at least eight people were missing, including two firefighters whose vehicle was carried away by water when the road collapsed during a rescue operation.

“I cannot hide our grave concern on the definitive toll,” Castex said.


Floodwaters can be seen circling a home in Saint-Martin Vésubie. (Valery Hache/AFP via Getty Images)

Many worried families had not heard from their relatives due to cellphone services being cut off in the area.

“As I speak, priority goes to searching for victims, providing supplies and accommodation for the people affected, and restoring communications,” the prime minister said.

Rescue efforts included 871 personnel working on the ground, as well as military helicopters and troops helping with emergency assistance, Castex said.


A car lies in mud after being moved by floods in Roquebilliere, southeastern France. (Nicolas Tucat/AFP via Getty Images)

French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday expressed gratitude toward rescuers on Twitter. “Together we will get through this,” he said.

France’s national weather agency, Meteo France, said that up to 500 millimeters of rain (19.7 inches) were recorded in some areas, the equivalent of almost one year of average rainfall.

Meteo France issued a danger alert on Friday and all schools in the region had been closed. Local authorities urged people to stay at home.

In central Switzerland, flooding along the Reuss River caused the closure of a stretch of the A2 highway – a major trans-Alpine route. Further east, 13 residents were evacuated from their homes in the town of Diesbach because of flooding.

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Japan battered by more heavy rain, floods, nearly 60 dead

Pounding rain that already caused deadly floods in southern Japan was moving northeast Wednesday, battering large areas of Japan’s main island, swelling more rivers, triggering mudslides and destroying houses and roads. At least 58 people have died in several days of flooding.

By Wednesday morning, parts of Nagano and Gifu in central Japan were flooded by massive downpours.

Footage on NHK television showed a swollen river gouging into the embankment, destroying a highway, while in the city of Gero, the rising river was flowing just below a bridge.

In a mountainous town of Takayama, several houses were hit by a mudslide, their residents all safely rescued.

In Kagoshima, a pickup truck was hit by a mudslide and fell into the ocean, but the driver was airlifted out with a head injury, according to Fuji Television. In another town in Oita, two brothers in the 80s were dug up alive by rescuers after a mudslide smashed into their hillside house, NHK said.

As of Wednesday morning, the death toll from the heavy rains starting over the weekend had risen to 58, most of them from the hardest-hit Kumamoto prefecture. Four others were found in Fukuoka, another prefecture on Kyushu, Japan’s third-largest island.


The lobby of a hot-spring hotel is covered with mud after flooding caused by heavy rain in Hita city, Oita prefecture, southwestern Japan on Tuesday. (Miyuki Saito/Kyodo News/The Associated Press)

Across the country, about 3.6 million people were advised to evacuate, although evacuation is not mandatory and the number of people who actually took shelter was not provided.

Rain subsided by Wednesday afternoon in many areas, where residents were busy cleaning up their homes and work places.

In Gero, a man washed down mud at the entrance of his riverside house despite the evacuation advisory. “I was told to run away and my neighbours all went, but I stayed,” he said. “I didn’t want my house to be washed away in my absence.”

In Oita, teachers at a nursery school were wiping the floor and drying the wet furniture. “I hope we can return to normal life as soon as possible,” Principal Yuko Kitaguchi told NHK.

Rain, flooding hamper rescue efforts

Though the rains were causing fresh flooding threats in central Japan, flooding was still affecting the southern region. And search and rescue operations continued in Kumamoto, where 14 people are still missing.

Tens of thousands of army troops, police and other rescue workers mobilized from around the country to assist, and the rescue operations have been hampered by the rains, flooding, mudslides and disrupted communications.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga urged residents to use caution. “Disasters may happen even with little rain where grounds have loosened from previous rainfalls,” he said.

Suga pledged continuing search and rescue effort, as well as the government:s emergency funds for the affected areas.

Japan is at high risk of heavy rain in early summer when wet and warm air from the East China Sea flows into a seasonal rain front above the country. In July 2018, more than 200 people, about half of them in Hiroshima, died from heavy rain and flooding in southwestern Japan.

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Kenya floods have killed nearly 200, displaced thousands

Floods and landslides in Kenya have killed nearly 200 people, displaced 100,000 and strained critical infrastructure, with unprecedentedly high water levels at two dams forcing the evacuation of villagers at risk, officials said on Wednesday.

The heavy rain, which accelerated in mid-April, is expected to continue in already hard-hit areas in the coming weeks, the Kenya Meteorological Department said in its most recent forecast. May usually marks the end of the rainy season.

In Budalangi, western Kenya, residents have had to carry their belongings away from their submerged houses using boats and motorbikes, after the Nzoia River burst its banks, spilling over the land for kilometres.

Government spokesperson Cyrus Oguna said on Twitter that over the past three weeks, floods had displaced 100,000 people — complicating efforts to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, which has killed 24 people in the country.

The government is providing food and water to the displaced people and has also requested the health ministry provide them with masks as a precautionary measure.

The floods and landslides have been concentrated in western Kenya and have so far killed 194 people, said Eugene Wamalwa, the minister in charge of relations between the regional leadership and the national government.

“Yesterday alone, we have lost 30 people in a matter of 24 hours,” Wamalwa said.

Twin effects of floods, coronavirus

Energy Minister Charles Keter said the water levels at two major Kenyan dams were unprecedentedly high.

The two dams, Masinga and Turkwel, represent about six per cent of Kenya’s total installed capacity.

As Masinga also feeds into several other dams, officials advised people living near those downstream reservoirs to evacuate.

“We are telling people who are downstream, Garissa all the way to Tana River — things are worsening,” Keter said about residents of the two eastern counties.

“We are asking them to move. Let them not wait for water, because this is historical.”


An aerial view on May 3 shows flood waters near the Sigiri Bridge in Budalangi, Kenya. (Thomas Mukoya/Reuters)

Security officials were already evacuating residents in high-risk areas, Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i added.

“We are not waiting for people to move — we are moving some people away from danger,” he said.

The floods have also destroyed 8,000 acres of rice fields, said Sicily Kariuki, the cabinet secretary for water and irrigation.

Kenya was already facing a looming rice shortage due to shipping disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The heavy rains and landslides could also lead to water shortages, Kariuki said.

“The infrastructure to deliver water has been washed away … pipelines have been clogged,” said Kariuki, asking residents of several cities, including the capital of Nairobi, to use their water in a “rational” manner.

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U.K. grapples with severe floods as storm death toll rises to 3

Britain issued severe flood warnings Monday advising of life-threatening danger after Storm Dennis dumped weeks worth of rain in some places. A woman was found dead after being swept away by the floodwaters, the storm’s third confirmed victim.

To the east, Dennis’s gale-force winds also left nine people injured in Germany as their vehicles crashed into broken trees littering roads and train tracks. Flooding and power outages were reported elsewhere in northern Europe.

By Monday evening, Britain’s Environment Agency issued seven severe flood warnings in the central English counties of Herefordshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire. Another 200 lower-level flood warnings were also in place, meaning that flooding was expected.

Some 480 flood warnings and alerts were issued across England on Monday, the highest number on record, the agency said.

The storm’s confirmed death toll rose to three as West Mercia Police said a body had been found in the search for a 55-year-old woman who had been missing near Tenbury in Worcestershire since Sunday.


An aerial view shows flooding from the River Wye following Storm Dennis on Monday in Hereford, England. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

A man pulled from the water in the same incident was airlifted to hospital, where he remained in stable condition, police said.

The weather system brought winds of more than 145 km/h and up to 150 millimetres of rain to Britain over the weekend. And the tumult is not over.

Flood warnings across much of England

“We expect disruptive weather into the middle of this week bringing a significant flood risk for the West Midlands, and there are flood warnings in place across much of England,” said Toby Willison, executive director of operations at Britain’s Environment Agency.

Forecasters said river levels in parts of northern England had yet to reach their peak. In the northern England city of York, authorities were piling up more than 4,000 sandbags as the River Ouse continued to rise. It’s expected to peak on Tuesday.

Other residents in Wales and western England were cleaning up Monday after the storm flooded roads, railways, homes and businesses and disrupted travel across Britain. Some told stories of fleeing for their lives.


Emergency personnel rescue people in Hereford, England, on Monday. (Phil Noble/Reuters)

Jeanette Cox, 68 and her daughter Rachel woke up to the sound of water in their home in the Welsh village of Nantgarw, near Cardiff, around 4 a.m. Sunday. Cox said the only object that survived downstairs was her wedding day photograph that she had kept on a windowsill. Her husband Bill died from cancer in 2009.

“It was pitch black,” she said. “All you could hear was the water running. I’ve never seen anything like it. I was very frightened.”


A flooded street is seen in Tenbury Wells, in the central England county of Worcestershire, on Monday. (Phil Noble/Reuters)

Britain’s environment secretary said climate change was making extreme weather events more common. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government denied it was unprepared for such storms.

“We’ll never be able to protect every single household, just because of the nature of climate change and the fact that these weather events are becoming more extreme, but we’ve done everything that we can do with a significant sum of money,” Environment Secretary George Eustice said.

9 injured in Germany

In Germany, at least nine people were injured in weather-related car accidents as high winds brought trees down onto roads and train tracks.

A commuter train with 67 passengers also crashed into a fallen tree in the western German city of Dortmund, but nobody was injured. And in the German city of Hamburg, the city’s famous fish market was flooded for the second time this month.


Storm Dennis roared across Britain with high winds and heavy rains. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)

Further north, strong winds and heavy rains caused flooding, road closures and electricity outages across the Nordic and Baltic regions, and forced the cancellation of several ferries between Denmark and Norway.

In Denmark, the southwestern city of Kolding was flooded as gale-force winds and heavy rains battered the area. In nearby Horsens, police protectively evacuated residents near Bygholm Lake out of fear that a levee would collapse.

In southwestern Norway, more than half a dozen roads and several mountain passes were closed amid heavy snow and high winds.

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53 dead in landslides, flash floods in Indonesia’s capital

Landslides and floods triggered by torrential downpours have left at least 53 people dead in and around Indonesia’s capital, as rescuers struggled to search for people apparently buried under tons of mud, officials said Saturday.

Monsoon rains and rising rivers submerged a dozen districts in the greater Jakarta area and caused landslides that buried at least a dozen people.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Agus Wibowo said the fatalities included those who had drowned or been electrocuted since rivers broke their banks early Wednesday after extreme torrential rains hit on New Year’s Eve. Three elderly people died of hypothermia.

It’s the worst flooding in the area since 2007, when 80 people were killed over 10 days.

Rescuers recovered more bodies as flash floods and mudslides destroyed Sukamulia village in Bogor district. They were searching for a villager who was missing in a landslide in Lebak, a district in neighbouring Banten province, Wibowo said.


An Indonesian youth walks past a home destroyed by flooding in Jakarta on Friday. (Ed Wray/Getty Images)

The number of fatalities was expected to increase, with rescuers and villagers also searching for at least three people believed to be buried in another landslide in Cigudeg village in Bogor district, said Ridwan, the village’s secretary, who goes by a single name.

Ridwan said bad weather, blackouts and mudslides were hampering rescue efforts. He said rescuers on Saturday managed to reach eight hamlets that had been isolated for days by cut-off roads and mudslides and rescued more than 1,700 villagers in weak condition.

Conditions grim in poor neighbourhoods

Four days after the region of 30 million people was struck by flash floods, waters have receded in many middle-class districts, but conditions remained grim in narrow riverside alleys where the city’s poor live.

Government data showed that some 173,000 people were still unable to return home and were crammed at damp emergency shelters, mostly in the hardest-hit area of Bekasi. Much of the city was still submerged in muddy waters up to two metres high, according to the disaster agency.


A man carries his sick wife to the river bank to take a boat for medical assistance at the Sukarame village in Lebak, Banten province on Friday. (Sammy/AFP via Getty Images)

Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency said that more downpours were forecast for the capital in the coming days, and that the potential for extreme rainfall will continue until next month across the vast archipelago nation. The government on Friday started cloud seeding in an attempt to divert rain clouds from reaching greater Jakarta to prevent possible flooding, the agency said.

Indonesia is hit by deadly floods each year, and Jakarta, the capital of Southeast Asia’s largest economy, is not immune. But this year’s have been particulary bad, with about 397,000 people seeking refuge in shelters across the greater metropolitan area as floodwaters reached up to six metres in some places.

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At least 21 dead in flash floods and landslides in Indonesia

The death toll from flash floods and landslides in and around Indonesia’s capital Jakarta reached at least 21 on Thursday, with more heavy rain forecast, authorities said.

The deadliest floods in years displaced more than 30,000 people and caused chaos across parts of Southeast Asia’s biggest city with train lines blocked and power outages in some areas.

Social affairs ministry spokesman Joko Hariyanto said in a message to Reuters that the death toll had now reached 21.

Swathes of Jakarta and nearby towns were inundated after heavy rain fell on Dec. 31 and into the early hours of New Year’s Day.

Indonesia’s geophysics agency forecast rain accompanied by lightning and strong winds later on Thursday.


A security guard uses an inflatable boat as floods hit Kemang area in Jakarta, Jan. 1. (Antara Foto/Sigit Kuniawan/via Reuters)

Authorities did not give a full breakdown of the causes of death for all of the victims, but earlier said four people had drowned, four died in landslides and four more were electrocuted, while three died of hypothermia.

Jakarta and its surroundings are home to more than 30 million people. More than 50 people died in one of the capital’s deadliest floods in 2007 and five years ago much of the centre of the city was inundated after canals overflowed.

City authorities have in the last few years sought to improve low-lying Jakarta’s vulnerability to flooding during the rainy season.

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Storms, floods in Sicily kill at least 12 people

Storms lashing Sicily have killed at least 12 people with torrential floods, Italian authorities said as the country's leader headed Sunday to the stricken Mediterranean island. Divers pulled nine of those victims from a home flooded by a rapidly swelling river in the countryside near Palermo.

State TV broadcaster RaiNews24 said the sole survivor of the flood that ravaged the home with water and mud was the owner, who had just stepped outside to walk the family dogs Saturday when the torrent hit.

In southern Italy, nine members of two families who were spending the weekend together died when this house was flooded in the district of Cavallaro in Casteldaccia near Palermo on the island of Sicily. A small river had burst its banks. (Igor Petyx/EPA-EFE)

News reports said the man at first clung to a tree, then ended up on the roof of a nearby house. He used his cellphone to call for help but it was too late for the others, who included a one-year-old baby, a three-year-old child and a teenager. The victims were from two families who had gathered in the country villa for the weekend.

A man's body was also found on a guardrail along a Palermo-area road after floodwaters swept away his car, Italian news reports said.

A vehicle with a motorhome is seen off the side of a flooded road on Sunday near the home where several people died in Casteldaccia. (Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters)

Across the island, in the town of Cammarata, near Agrigento, the fire department said its divers were working to recover the bodies of two people swept away while driving on a road near the flooding Saraceno River.

Also in Agrigento province, firefighters rescued 14 people from a hotel in the town of Montevago, which was threatened by floodwaters from the Belice River.

Agrigento, famed for the ruins of ancient Greek temples, is a popular tourist destination.

Swept away in cars

Elsewhere in Sicily, at least two other people were missing Sunday after floodwaters swept away their cars, including a doctor heading to the hospital in the hill town of Corleone.

Other storms had battered northern Italy earlier in the week, killing at least 15 people, uprooting millions of trees near Alpine valleys and leaving several Italian villages without electricity or road access for days. Floodwaters left streets submerged under knee-high water in Venice, the capital of the northeastern region of Veneto.

In Casteldaccia, the hamlet where the river flooded the home in Sicily, neighbour Maria Concetta Alfano said she, her husband and their adult disabled daughter fled after barking dogs drew their attention to the rising waters in the Milicia River, the Italian news agency ANSA said. It quoted the husband, Andrea Cardenale, as saying he drove away as "water was up to the hood of the car."

Rescuers retrieved the bodies from the home. A Sicilian prosecutor opened an investigation to determine if any human error, such as possible inadequate drainage of the river, might have played a role in the deaths.

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Lane weakens to tropical storm but fears of flash floods in Hawaii with rain forecast

A powerful hurricane that threatened Hawaii for a week rapidly disintegrated to become a tropical storm south of Honolulu. But meteorologists warned heavy rains could still wallop the islands with flash flooding and punishing winds.

Lane dumped nearly one metre of rain on parts of the Big Island of Hawaii over the past two days, forcing residents to flee their homes in waist-high water and officials to clear a series of landslides.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said people need to be vigilant and not let their guard down. But he was happy to hear the storm deteriorated.

"The good news is Lane got weak and fell apart. We dodged a bullet," he said at a news conference on Friday.

Lane roared toward the island chain early this week as the most powerful type of hurricane measured: a Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. That meant it was likely to cause catastrophic damage with winds 252 km/h or above.

But upper-level winds known as shear swiftly tore the storm apart. By late Friday, the National Weather Service said Lane had maximum sustained winds of 110 km/h as it slowly twisted west about 240 km south of Honolulu.

The outer bands of the hurricane dumped as much as one metre of rain in 48 hours on the mostly rural Big Island. The main town of Hilo, population 43,000, was flooded Friday with waist-high water as landslides shut down roads.

'Inundated with mud-water'

Margaret Collins, 69, woke up Thursday night to sounds in her Hilo backyard.

"So I got up out of bed and looked out my bedroom window and saw water 3 feet high gushing past my window," she said. "And that's when I realized I was standing in water."

Collins called a neighbour for help, who crawled through bushes to bring her out of the house, half-carrying her as she clutched a plastic bag with medication.

The water knocked down a cement wall and lifted her truck out of the carport, sending it toward her neighbour's house, she said.

"My house is completely inundated with mud-water," said Collins, who was told the damage wouldn't be covered by insurance. She hopes she can get federal assistance.

Elsewhere on the Big Island, the National Guard and firefighters rescued six people and a dog from a flooded home, while five California tourists were rescued from another house.

A different type of evacuation took place on Oahu, the state's most populated island.

Lane dumped torrential rains that inundated the Big Island. The city of Hilo, population 43,000, was flooded with waist-high water. (Hollyn Johnson/Hawaii Tribune-Herald/AP)

Officials with the Department of Land and Natural Resources transferred about 2,000 rare Hawaiian snails from a mountain marsh to offices in downtown Honolulu. A staffer will spend the night and place ice around their cages in case the air conditioning goes out.

Some of the snails are the last of their kind, including one named George that's the sole remaining Achatinella apexfulva in captivity. Staff members are trying to keep him safe in case he's able to reproduce.

Wildfires, heavy rain still threaten some areas

As flooding hit the Big Island, brush fires broke out in areas of Maui and Oahu susceptible to flames.

A man posted a video on Instagram showing flames several stories high starting to envelop parked cars.

Joseph Azam, who was vacationing in Maui with family and friends, hoped rain from the hurricane arrived before the flames did.

"Trying to figure which comes first, the fire or the rain," said Azam, who's from Oakland, Calif., and is staying at a hotel. "We're praying the rain arrives soon."

Others prayed for the rain to stay away.

In Waikiki, the man-made Ala Wai Canal is likely to flood if predicted rains arrive, said Ray Alexander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The canal marks the northern boundary of the Waikiki tourist district. Worries that it could overflow in heavy rains have prompted efforts to reduce the risk.

"The canal has flooded in the past, and I believe it's safe to say based on the forecast of rainfall it's likely to flood again — the impacts of which we aren't prepared to say at this time," Alexander said.

At the peak of its power, tropical storm Lane was a Category 5 hurricane. This photo was taken from aboard the International Space Station earlier this week. (@astro_ricky/NASA/Reuters)

Beachgoers ignore warnings

Not everyone feared the storm.

Swimmers and surfers ignored warnings from authorities and plunged into powerful waves at Oahu's famed Waikiki Beach, which was closed.

Emergency officials said repeatedly over loudspeakers: "Please get out of the water! It's very dangerous!" Honolulu mayor Caldwell pleaded with tourists that they were putting themselves in danger as the storm churned closer.

Crystal Bowden, a tourist from California, watched powerful waves crash against cliffs on Oahu's southeast coast.

"I came in to visit, got here just in time for the hurricane," Bowden said. "We're kind of excited."

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials said about 2,000 people were in shelters, mostly in Oahu. Honolulu's shelters would stay open until midday Saturday, Caldwell said.

The central Pacific gets fewer hurricanes than other regions, with about only four or five named storms a year. Hawaii rarely gets hit. The last major storm to hit was Iniki in 1992. Others have come close in recent years.

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CBC | World News