Rainstorms lashing Sicily have killed at least 12 people, Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte said before heading Sunday for the stricken Mediterranean island. Divers pulled out nine of those victims from a home flooded by a rapidly swelling river in the countryside near Palermo.
State TV broadcaster RaiNews24 said the sole survivor of the flood that ravaged the home with water and mud was the owner, who had just stepped outside to walk the family dogs Saturday when the torrent hit.
News reports said the man at first clung to a tree, then ended up on the roof of a nearby house. He used his cellphone to call for help but it was too late for the others, who included a one-year-old baby, a three-year-old child and a teenager. The victims were from two families who had gathered in the country villa for the weekend.
Another confirmed fatality was a man whose body was found on a guardrail along a Palermo-area road after floodwaters swept away his car near the town of Vicari, Italian news reports said.
State TV also said two people were killed by the storm in the outskirts of Agrigento, a Sicilian tourist town famed for its ancient Greek temples. If confirmed, those deaths would raise the overall death toll in Sicily to 12.
At least two persons were missing Sunday in other incidents in Sicily after floodwaters swept away their cars, including that of a doctor heading to the hospital of the hill town of Corleone.
Italy's earlier storms, tornadoes, floods, mudslides and gale-force winds killed at least 20 people, flattened or uprooted millions of trees near Alpine valleys and left several villages without electricity or road access for days.
In Casteldaccia, the hamlet where the river flooded the home in Sicily, neighbor Maria Concetta Alfano said she, her husband and their adult disabled daughter fled after barking dogs drew their attention to the rising waters in the Milicia River, the Italian news agency ANSA said. It quoted the husband, Andrea Cardenale, as saying as he drove away as "water was up to the hood of the car."
Rescuers worked Sunday to retrieve the bodes in the home.