Flash flooding in northern Italy has left at least nine people dead and six missing on Wednesday.
Torrential rains across the country have been especially damaging in the coastal region of Liguria, where sudden flooding and mudslides ripped through the village of Borghetto Vara and destroyed roads around La Spezia.
One of the areas most damaged were the cliff-side towns of Cinque Terra, the five small fishing villages that are popular with Italian and international tourists. The five steep towns, with houses and vineyards carved into the fertile hills above the Italian Riviera, are normally connected by winding roads and a single train line that drives straight through the center of the inclines.
But, the flooding has broken that connection, and two of the five UNESCO World Heritage Cites, the towns of Vernazza and Monterosso, were severely affected by mud and debris that ran down the hills.
Monterosso no longer exists, Angelo Betta, the village's mayor, told Italian news agencies.
Vernazza had to be evacuated by sea. There were three reported injuries, but there were no casualties reported. The coast guard pulled residents and tourists onto boats, and the Italian military is currently mobilizing. Around 100 soldiers and two helicopters will be sent to Liguria to help search for missing people, according to The Associated Press.
The rainstorm, which stretched from the Alps in the north to Sicily, began last Tuesday. Six of the nine victims of the flash floods were in Borghetto Vara, at least on in Monterosso and two in Aulla, which is in the Massa Carrara region of Tuscany.
The city of Rome issued a flood alert, but the capital has so far been unaffected.
The most recent severe flooding in Italy happened in 2009 in Messina. Thirty-one people were killed in the Sicilian region when a sudden downpour in October caused mudslides that clogged streets and carried about cars and people. Nearly 500 people were left homeless by the events, and hundreds fled to their rooftops, where helicopters were able to lift them to safety.