Heavy downpour in Messina

On 1st October 2009 a violent downpour hits eastern Sicily, causing landslides, buildings to collapse and flooding, isolating many villages. The Civil Protection Department acts immediately and coordinates the rescue work.

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The most critical situation is in the province of Messina, in the coastal area between the Galati and Scaletta Zaclea council districts, where mudslides obstruct the roads and isolate Scaletta Zaclea.

The situation
During the night, with the increase in rainfall, the coastal area between the Galati and Scaletta Zaclea council districts is hit by landslides and mudslides interrupting the roads, railway and motorway at several points. 

The motorway A/18 Messina-Catania, main road 114 and Giampilieri – Scaletta section of the railway are closed for landslides.
The slides invade roads, ground floors, basements and underground passages in the built up areas, blocking numerous vehicles for many hours.

Bad situations at Scaletta, completely isolated, Molino and Giampilieri. A number of landslides were recorded in the latter council district and an LPG explosion caused collapses.

Rescue work
The Civil Protection Department is in continual contact with the Prefectures in Trapani, Catania and Messina as the situation worsens, where crisis units have been set up in the meantime, right from the evening of 1st October.
The provisional death toll amounts to four with ten injured.
During the night of 1st October a task force from the Department flies over the zone hit by the heavy downpour to check the conditions of the area.
The rescue operations, coordinated by the Department, concentrate earth moving equipment put at disposal by the army, in a very short time.
Some injured persons in the Scaletta district are saved from the sea, the only way to reach the town, by a patrol boat from the Harbour Master’s Office.
Teams of Fire Department, arriving from Calabria and Campania, from the Civil Protection and the Army are coordinated by two helicopters, one belonging to the navy and the other to the coast guards which transport several injured persons to Piemonte hospital in Messina.
The rescue workers also set up two medically assisted first aid posts with stretcher beds, blankets and basic supplies: the first one in the Gravitelli gym in Messina, where 75 evacuees are transferred, and the second at Roccalumera. Another post is set up in the Giardini Naxos traffic police headquarters.
In the early hours of October 2 the heavy army vehicles finally manage to enter the inhabited areas higher up, opening up a road through the mud and debris.
There are also 114 volunteers with draining pumps in the zone.