Flash flood in Italy leaves at least 8 hikers dead

Heavy rain flooded a gorge filled with hikers in the southern region of Calabria, killing at least eight people, Italy’s civil protection agency said.

It said the dead included four men and four women.

On Monday, the head of civil protection in Calabria, Carlo Tansi, told Sky TG24 that 12 other people, including a 10-year-old boy, were brought to safety. The boy suffered hypothermia and was among six people injured in the flash flood in the Raganello Gorge, a popular aquatic trekking spot.

Aquatic trekkers traverse challenging terrain that includes waterways, sometimes hiking and sometimes swimming or wading through water. In some cases climbing gear and wet suits are used.

A view of the Raganello Gorge in Civita, Italy, Monday, shows the narrow, deep nature of the terrain. It was unclear how many people were missing, but 12 were reportedly brought to safety, including a 10-year-old boy who was treated for hypothermia. (Antonio Iannicelli/Associated Press)

It was unclear how many people were missing but at least three groups of hikers were said to be in the gorge.

Gorge just a few metres wide

“The problem is we don’t know how many people were knocked over by this flood,” Tansi said. “This is a split in the terrain that is very tight and high. Imagine nearly a kilometre in height, and just a few metres wide. Imagine people who were in this hole.”

The gorge on the eastern side of the Pollino National Park boasts aquatic trekking along the stream that cuts through the massive rock, where hikers pass by water falls, water tubs and natural slipways, according to a website.

The 12-kilometre-long gorge is broken down into three sections, the upper, mid and lower canyons, with hikes averaging between 2 ½ and 3½ hours. Guides include spelunkers and rescue instructors.

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