26 October 2011 by Luke McCormick
At least nine people have been killed and five others are missing after flash floods hit areas of the Italian Riviera today.
A huge downpour triggered landslides and turned roads into rivers along some of Italy's most picturesque coastline, including the Cinque Terre, an area popular with British travellers.
The World Heritage-listed towns of Vernazza and Monterosso were hardest hit. Fire crews and civil protection teams are working through the towns, where, in some places cars were washed out to sea and roads were torn up as torrents of water rushed down from the mountains towards the sea.
Mayor Angelo Betta said: "Monterosso does not exist anymore.
"We have lost electricity, gas, telephone lines and we have people missing. We need help quickly. It is just a sea of mud everywhere."
Officials said 500mm of rain had fallen in just 24 hours leading to houses collapsing and road and train lines subsiding.The main railway linking Rome to the north of Italy was blocked by a landslide at La Spezia, resulting in all trains to Genoa terminating there. There was also chaos on the roads as key routes were blocked.
Helicopters are being brought in to help with the rescue effort and air relief flights are being set up to send in supplies, with the army out on standby.
Only emergency vehicles are being allowed access to the minor roads in the mountains that link the worst hit villages for fear of further landslides.
Weather sources have the whole of northern Italy was at risk from heavy rainstorms and added that a state of emergency would be declared in areas of Liguria and Tuscany hit by storms, according to Sky News.