‘Eight months of rain in 8 hours’: Cyclone Apollo brings mayhem to the Italian island of Sicily

Cyclone Apollo approached the Italian island of Sicily on Friday, after a week of deadly storms. As a result the streets were flooded and train lines blocked.

Three people have already died this week and the regional leader told people on the island to stay at home to avoid what was described as a “medicane” or Mediterranean hurricane.

Gales, torrential rain and flooding hit the towns of Augusta and Syracuse.

Emergency services rescued dozens of people from storm-damaged homes.

Eight months of rainfall fell on Sicily in a matter of eight hours, civil defence volunteers said, as Apollo ravaged the south and east coast.

Emergency services faced hundreds of calls for help as streets flooded in the two big towns on the south-east coast.

Some areas of the island saw up to 150mm of rainfall in just six hours.

Routes in and out of Augusta were deluged as rivers burst their banks.

Augusta Mayor Giuseppe Di Mare said the town’s road network was “on its knees”.

“If you have to go out for non-essential reasons, take care and avoid areas where there is water,” he said.

Sicilian President Nello Musumeci called on people to stay at home and wait for the weather to improve.

The local hospital in Augusta flooded, as did the hospital further up the coast in Catania. Six babies were born overnight there as water seeped into the hospital rooms, according to a local journalist.

Despite all the flooding, Cyclone Apollo was still several hours from reaching the island on Friday.

Scientists say climate change caused by human activity is making such extreme weather events more frequent and intense.