Cyclone Cleopatra kills 18 people in Sardinia

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The Italian island of Sardinia has been hit by a powerful cyclone. Devastating floods have killed eighteen people, with several more still missing.

It has been reported that over 450mm of rain fell in just an hour and a half during Monday night. The cyclone, dubbed Cleopatra, caused rivers to burst their banks, flooding streets and homes, dragging cars away for kilometres.

What has been described as an "apocalyptic" storm swept the towns of Olbia and Nuoro in the north-east, with bridges felled by gushing, muddy rivers and water levels reaching as high as 10ft (3m).

According to local newspaper L'Unione Sarda three people died when a road bridge collapsed on their car near Olbia. A bridge collapsing in the town of Dorgali also took the life of a policeman while he was in his car escorting an ambulance.

A young mother and her daughter were found dead in their car swept away by the flood. Among the victims also a family of four, who drowned when in their flooded basement flat in the town of Arzachena, in the northern part of the island.

The Italian government recognized the event as a national tragedy. A state of emergency has been declared, and 20 million euros (£17 million) have been set aside for emergency relief. Priority will be given to reaching remote area and provide for those left homeless.

Indeed, hundreds of people have been forced out of their homes and found into temporary shelters in sports halls, hotels and other centres. The Sardinia Governor Ugo Cappellacci said “The situation is tragic. The hotels in Olbia are full of people who have had to escape but there are thousands who have damage to their homes."

Cyclone Cleopatra is currently bringing heavy rains in other parts of Italy, including the north-east, with Venice experiencing high waters.

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