Red alert Rome braced for 'water bombs'

Weather alerts in Lazio, Sicily, Calabria amid heavy rains

Red alert Rome braced for 'water bombs'

Rome, November 6 - Rome remained on high alert Thursday as violent storms pelted the Italian capital with heavy rains, hail, and thunderstorms, closing subway stations and forcing aviation authorities to divert some flights. A young woman who went into labour after violent rain forced her to pull over in a service area outside Rome Thursday morning give birth to her baby in an ambulance. The 22-year-old woman, Vanessa, and her newborn were taken to hospital in Tivoli and both are said to be in good condition. Hail was reported on the capital's northern outskirts while heavy rains forced the closure of four flooded metro stations for part of Thursday, and six flights were diverted from Rome's Ciampino airport to Fiumicino airport. With the civil protection department expecting torrential rain to lead to "water bombs", the authorities decided to close schools and monuments in Rome Thursday. Rome Prefect Giuseppe Pecoraro earlier said that the weather forecasts were "unprecedented" and suggested Romans avoid leaving their homes. The high alert remained for the Lazio region around Rome and as far south as Calabria and Sicily as severe weather that rocked the north and central regions one day earlier slowly shifted south. With a slight easing in weather worries for Friday, schools were scheduled to re-open in Rome. And by the weekend, Rome and central Italy should see slightly better conditions with rain gradually tapering off, forecasters said. "The low-pressure vortex...will escape to Greece on the weekend, but Italy will remain exposed to cool and rainy conditions," said Andrea Giuliacci of the Epson weather center. Meanwhile, weather disturbances were reported all over the country Thursday. That triggered the government of Premier Matteo Renzi to call a meeting with civil protection authorities, regional governors, mayors, climatologists and a range of experts for next Tuesday to discuss a long-term plan to deal with risks posed by floods and land instability. The situation remained critical in northern areas of the peninsula including the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, where authorities issued a river alert, and Veneto, with high water in Venice reaching 103 cm above surface level. In the mountainous northern province of Trentino roads were closed due to landslides. Authorities said that a 31-year-old woman and her three-year-old daughter were killed in a landslide that engulfed their home in Ticino in Switzerland near the border with Italy. The house was swept away by a mudslide. Similar risks of landslides and mudslides were heightened by heavy rainfall in several parts of Italy, warned civil protection authorities. At the greatest risk were most of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, Veneto, eastern Liguria, southern Tuscany, Umbria, much of Lazio, and the Ionian coast of Calabria and eastern Sicily. However, conditions were said to have improved Thursday in Carrara, where one day earlier the rain-swollen Carrione River burst its banks and flooded parts of the Tuscan city. An inquiry into what caused banks to fail and cause flooding was announced by Tuscany Governor Enrico Rossi. By mid-morning Thursday, two-thirds of the floodwater water was said to have subsided, however leaving roads covered in mud and debris and making circulation difficult. Forecasters warned of more bad weather to come for the hard-hit Piedmont and Liguria regions in the northwest.

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