Italy floods: Six killed in port city Genoa

Footage showed torrents of water rushing through streets

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At least six people were killed when the Italian port city of Genoa was hit by flash floods during torrential rainfall.

Five of the victims, including two children, died when the lobby of an apartment block in which they had sought shelter flooded.

A woman was apparently crushed by cars being swept away by the water.

The Genoa city website advised people not to leave their homes and to climb to the upper floors.

Several people are missing in the city.

"This was a completely unexpected tragedy," said Genoa mayor Marta Vicenzi.

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Television footage showed cars floating and people wading knee-deep through flooded streets in Genoa, the largest city on Italy's north western coast.

Hundreds of shops were flooded and emergency officials urged residents to move to high ground as two rivers burst their banks.

Firefighters used rubber dinghies and divers to evacuate people, officials said.

Motorways in the area were also closed off and flights re-routed away from the local airport.

The BBC's Peter Gibbs explains that more severe weather is expected over the weekend

Sunday's Serie A soccer match between local team Genoa and rivals Inter Milan has been postponed.

Much of northern Italy was hit by heavy rains on Friday, and flooding was also reported in Venice.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has given Italy's civil protection chief extra authority to provide assistance to residents.

"People should avoid bridges and streams and not sleep on first floors or in areas that are easily flooded," said Renata Briano, a local emergency official.

Last week the government declared a state of emergency in the north western Liguria region and Tuscany after storms lashed the coastal regions, killing at least 10 people and causing widespread flooding and mudslides.

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