In Italy, floods and mud tsunami swallowed victims alive

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Adriana Pianelli called her husband and son as they disappeared under a sea of ​​mud in the underground car park, during a deadly storm that devastated villages in central Italy.

“I saw them, I called Andrea! Giuseppe! But the water had risen so fast and was so thick with mud that they had no chance,” she said, the arms of her sweater rose folded over clenched fists.

Andrea, 25, was almost out of the garage when he turned to help his father, Giuseppe, 65, who had slipped. All three had gone out in the pouring rain to put their car in a safe place.

The father and son were just two of around 10 people killed in the Marche region by the flash floods.

“It was like a tsunami. They were there, then they left,” says Adriana, who was waiting for them at the entrance to the garage.

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At the end of the street, Pasquale Avallone said he nearly died when the waters gushing into his house rose to his neck in seconds.

“The front door shattered off its hinges and I was thrown against the wall. I just managed to climb onto a cupboard and there I waited, death,” he said.

The warehouse worker, 30, choked back tears as he pulled his son’s dinosaur toys out of the mud and tossed them onto the nearest pile of crumbling sofas, beds and tables lining the street at Pianello di Ostra.

“I didn’t have much. Now I have nothing, nothing but a drowned parrot,” he said as he stood shirtless in shorts and leather boots. rubber, his legs and hands covered in mud.

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Villagers used brooms to sweep water from their homes or tried unsuccessfully to clean dirt from valuables.

Laura Marinelli, 33, grabbed her 18-month-old daughter and ran to upstairs neighbors as her ground floor home near Ostra began to flood. The only thing she took with her was a pack of diapers.

“If it had happened much later, we would have slept and probably died,” she said, pointing to the roof she climbed on with her baby and her husband as the waters continued to rise.

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“We lost everything, all the photos, all the letters that you can’t replace,” she told AFP, pink plastic toys floating in the nearby sunken garden.

The strong smell of sewage and petrol at the height of the flood lingered in Pianello when Prime Minister Mario Draghi arrived for a whirlwind visit and was heckled by a small group of locals.

“If the state does not hurry to help, there will be a revolution here,” warned Marco, Avellone’s brother-in-law.

“They’re quick to promise things when it’s election season, but you can’t trust any of them to do what’s necessary. Do whatever they can to avoid nightmares like this- here,” he said.

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