At least 8 hikers killed by flash flooding in Southern Italy

At least 8 hikers killed by flash flooding in Southern Italy

Raganello Gorge is very narrow and high, making flooding especially likely and extra unsafe. All of the victims are believed to be Italian tourists. Imagine almost a kilometre in height, and just a few metres wide.

Last week, a motorway bridge collapsed in the northern Italian port city of Genoa, killing 43 people.

The news agency ANSA said the dead included one such guide, a 32-year-old who also worked as a rescue worker during the avalanche that buried the Rigopiano hotel in Abruzzo in January 2017. And just a few meters wide.

The civil protection department said 23 people were rescued following the August 20 flooding in Raganello Creek, part of the Pollino National Park; many of them were hospitalized.

Italian prosecutors on Tuesday opened a criminal investigation into the gorge deaths, and the government has asked for a separate administrative proceeding to determine if there were lapses that contributed to the deaths. No target has been identified.

Numerous victims were in two organised groups from northern Italy, who were accompanied by a guide.

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Witnesses say heavy rain in the Pollino National Park area caused a sudden rush of flood water, rocks and mud through the Raganello creek where dozens of hikers had been exploring. He said they were washed almost two miles down the valley, BBC News reported.

As night fell, a helicopter was helping with the search operation, while rescue workers aided by powerful lights scoured the terrain.

The survivors and those killed are reported to be part of two separate hiking groups which were exploring the gorge at the time. The 12-kilometre- (71/2-mile-) long gorge is broken down into three sections, the upper, mid and lower canyons, with hikes averaging between 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 hours.

Guides include spelunkers and rescue instructors, who supply helmets, wet suits and other equipment. Rescue teams used ropes to descend the sides of the mountain to reach the site.

Numerous hikers were on holiday from northern Italy, according to La Repubblica.

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