In a year of weird weather, the latest tragedy reported is from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. A deadly cyclone has struck the Italian island, the second largest in the Mediterranean, reportedly killing at least 18 people.
Early reports that nine people had died were soon revised up to 14, a figure which quickly rose to 17 and later 18. The death toll may still rise.
Tragically the latest death was a child. Mayor Gianni Giovannelli told SkyTG24 television "We've just found a dead child we had been searching all night for".
Later Tuesday the Italian government declared a state of emergency as it reported hundreds of people are homeless. 2,700 are reportedly displaced. As Sardinia is a relatively small island the extent of the tragedy is huge.
Reuters reports: "The government set aside 20 million euros ($27 million) in immediate emergency funds to help the rescue and clean-up work. The regional government of Sardinia separately approved 5 million euros in aid funds".
Heavy rains added to the chaos as rivers burst their banks. 450mm of rain fell in just an hour and a half Monday night causing chaos. Overnight fast-moving floodwaters swept across parts of the island and Tuesday morning officials were assessing the situation. Early reports were that the worst affected areas are in and around the north-eastern city of Olbia.
Bad weather Tuesday hampered rescue efforts and the big-clean up will begin Wednesday, weather permitting.
Cyclone Cleopatra has caused the worst situation islanders have experienced for many years.
Giorgio Cicalo, an official from Sardinia's civil protection authority, told Italy's Rai TV. "We haven't seen a situation as extreme as this, perhaps for decades. Especially because it's been across the whole island."
Reports of those killed include a Brazilian family of four who died in Arzachena, in the far north-east of the island, three people who died when a road bridge collapsed on to their car and in an unrelated incident, a mother and daughter who were found dead in their vehicle after it was swept away by flood waters.
Sardinia is still in chaos and reports vary. BBC News reports that "Governor Cappellacci told La Stampa newspaper that thousands of people had been affected".
Cyclones are rare in the Mediterranean region of Europe, but not unknown.
Sardinia is a popular tourist destination for upmarket travelers and a relatively rich island. One downside for the economy is its location. Costs importing into the island from mainland Italy and further afield are high. However according to Wikipedia: "Sardinia's economic conditions are such that the island is in the best position among Italian regions located south of Rome".
Even so Cyclone Cleopatra's devastation is a terrible blow.
The people of the island are pulling together as best as they can. There are reports that offers of temporary shelter, by those Sardinians not directly affected, were posted on social network sites.
With flights disrupted and farming communities devastated the government is meeting Tuesday. Reuters reports: "A meeting of the Italian cabinet has been called for 0900 GMT to discuss the emergency".
Hotels on the island have also become a temporary home for those affected by flooding and cyclone Cleopatra.
As the tragedy unfolds questions raised are: can we still deny climate change, which country will be next to succumb to an extreme weather event and will the world help the people of Sardinia?.
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