Naples braces for flooding after 2 weeks of heavy rains

Monday, November 7, 2011
Rescuers remove mud and debris Saturday from a street in Genoa, Italy. Italy's Premier Silvio Berlusconi said improper construction in flood plains was partly to blame for devastating floods that have killed at least six people in the port city of Genoa. (Antonio Calanni ~ Associated Press)

ROME -- The mayor of Naples ordered a much-awaited soccer match scrapped Sunday for fear tens of thousands of fans could be trapped by flooding, while in northern Italy authorities closely monitored the rain-swollen Po river.

Luigi De Magistris said he ordered the Serie A match between Napoli and Juventus postponed to some later date, partly because the field was already soggy, but mainly because of concern some 65,000 fans could be trapped in flooding or cause traffic problems as they drove to or from the stadium.

The sprawling outdoor ruins of ancient Pompeii on the outskirts of Naples were temporarily closed for fear of flooding, but later were reopened to tourists, authorities said.

The area has been pounded by torrential rain that has already claimed one life. Near the Naples suburb of Pozzuoli, a tree fell on a car, killing the driver, local fire chief Giovanni Fricano told Sky TG24.

Much of Italy, especially the northwest, has been pummeled by heavy rains and flooding over the last two weeks. The latest worry in the north concerned the Po river, the waters of which swelled from two rain fed-tributaries, the head of Italy's Civil Protection agency, Franco Gabrielli said. He told reporters that Sunday evening could be a crucial time for the Po's level, if the rain becomes heavier.

A bridge across a Po tributary, the Pellice stream, in the countryside outside Turin, collapsed Sunday as waters rushed through, the Italian news agency ANSA said. No injuries were reported.

Flash flooding in the center of Genoa, on the Liguria sea, killed six people Friday, including several people who took shelter in a doorway along a major street when floodwaters came barreling down on them.

Elsewhere in northwestern Italy, hillside towns in the Cinque Terre tourist area were still shoveling out from tons of mud from earlier flooding that claimed nine lives in Liguria and Tuscany.

Much of largely mountainous Italy is geologically fragile, as people build homes on the slopes of hillsides, leaving them vulnerable for mudslides.

In neighboring France, 11 regions were on alert Sunday after heavy rains in the touristic Var and Alpes-Maritime regions swelled rivers and left some towns under water, forcing hundreds to evacuate.

According to the Var prefecture, at least 750 people were evacuated from flooded areas in the coastal towns of Frejus, Roquebrune and in Tourves, inland north of Toulon.

The heavy rain was marching westward toward the Atlantic, putting the Pyrenees region on alert.

At least one flood-related death has been reported in France. The body of a man was found Saturday morning on a riverbank in Lezignan-la-Cebe in the Herault region. Officials there said the victim was likely a homeless German who lived in a van and was reported missing Friday.

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