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7 killed after flooding ravages parts of northern Italy, officials say

By the CNN Wire Staff
October 28, 2011 -- Updated 1359 GMT (2159 HKT)
A man walks on mud and debris between broken cars in a street of Monterosso after overnight floods on October 26.
A man walks on mud and debris between broken cars in a street of Monterosso after overnight floods on October 26.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The death toll rises to seven and a state of emergency is declared
  • 348 Italian military personnel are dispatched to help in flood-ravaged areas
  • Cinque Terre town is "isolated, accessible only by sea," its mayor says
  • The storms have caused transportation problems across Liguria

Rome (CNN) -- Seven people have died and seven others are missing after rains triggered severe flooding in northern Italy, civil protection officials said Friday.

Especially hard hit was the tourist-popular Cinque Terre region on Italy's northwest coast.

The Italian Council of Ministers declared a state of emergency in the flood region, which means 65 million euros ($91 million) will be put aside to deal with the disaster, the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported.

A special cabinet meeting was called Friday to discuss the situation, the Italian government said.

Heavy rains continued to fall Thursday night in Milan and other spots across the southern European nation, according to the Servizio Meteorologico, Italy's official weather agency. The agency gave an alert about intense, widespread rainfall -- potentially with strong wind gusts and hail -- in the regions of Calabria and Basilicata in southern Italy, as well as the eastern part of Sicily.

Meanwhile, Monterosso al Mare -- between Genoa and Pisa in the Cinque Terre region of Liguria -- has been "isolated, accessible only by sea" because of earlier rains and floods, Mayor Angelo Betta told the news agency ANSA.

So, too, is the nearby town of Vernazza, with even bulldozers and cranes still not able to reach it.

That said, Betta reported some progress Thursday thanks to round-the-clock efforts by emergency workers and volunteers to clean up the town. One volunteer in that community died in the flood Wednesday.

"The situation is much better compared to yesterday," Betta said.

Italy's Defense Ministry noted Thursday on its website that 348 military personnel have deployed to the provinces of Massa Carrara and La Spezia to assist in the wake of flooding here.

Three people were killed after a house collapsed in La Spezia, an ANSA report said.

ANSA also reported that prosecutors have opened a manslaughter investigation related to the deaths of two people from flood-related injuries in Aulla. Authorities are assessing whether their deaths had anything to do with faulty work that may have caused the Magra River to overflow.

The weather has also caused major travel headaches throughout the region. A mudslide that trapped a truck driver, who was eventually freed, has caused the A12 highway in Liguria to be blocked since Tuesday. Train services in Liguria have been halted, too, due to mud and debris on the tracks.

CNN's Hada Messia and Marilia Brochetto contributed to this report.

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