Calabria clear-up begins after storms, flash floods (2)

Army removing debris, police guarding against looters

Calabria clear-up begins after storms, flash floods (2)

Rossano, August 13 - As Red Cross workers continued Thursday to work with the victims of intense flooding in the southern region of Calabria, Italian army and civil protection staff laboured to remove debris. Firefighters from as far away as Lazio said about 1,000 people were evacuated from communities in the area, including about 500 from the hard-hit town of Rossano, as well as from Corigano Calabro. Some people were preparing to return to their homes, possibly later Thursday, after they were hit by Wednesday's violent storms and flash floods in Calabria. Evacuated Rossano residents spent Wednesday night in two shelters and officials said some buildings in the town would require close inspection to be sure they were safe for people to enter. The Red Cross said it was continuing to ferry medications and other necessities to people cut off by the disaster on Italy's Ionian coast. Clean-up began early Thursday to deal with vast rivers of mud left behind by the flood waters, remove downed trees, and restore electricity to 10,000 people as police continued to watch against looters until order was restored. Wednesday's disaster came in the same week that two people were killed in separate events linked to extreme weather in other parts of Italy. That led Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti to complain that for too long, governments have not invested enough in flood prevention and protection. That will change, beginning with an end to amnesties for construction on risky river floodplains, he said in a visit to Rossano Thursday. Galletti said that "human guilt" and "unauthorized construction" have been factors in disasters. Responding to infrastructure demands "is the beginning of a job that will be very long," he said. Premier Matteo Renzi was in touch with officials on the flood situation, which Rossano Mayor Giuseppe Antoniotti described as creating "enormous damage". He said he would be asking the Renzi government for help in coping with the diaster.

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