After a wall of water roared down a narrow canyon in southern Italy, killing at least 10 hikers and sweeping some as far as two miles downstream, rescue workers continued searching on Tuesday for survivors and more victims.
A downpour on Monday during what is usually a dry time of year sent a flash flood down the Raganello Gorge, a popular destination for hikers in the Calabria region, overwhelming people with a surge that suddenly rose as much as eight feet, witnesses said. At least five people were missing on Tuesday.
“This gorge filled in a very short time with water, and people were catapulted out like bullets,” Carlo Tansi, head of the civil protection agency for Calabria, told reporters.
Helicopters made perilous dips into the gorge to lower rescue workers and extract survivors, while other rescue crews used ropes to rappel down cliffs to bring people out. The workers described devastating scenes, including a semiconscious 8-year-old girl found lying next to a corpse, The Associated Press reported.
Officials said about two dozen people were rescued.
The disaster came less than a week after the collapse of a highway bridge in the northern city of Genoa killed 43 people.
The Raganello stream rushes from the mountains of the Pollino National Park, between steep rock slopes that rise as much as 2,300 feet, over waterfalls and under the Devil’s Bridge, built of rocks, which crosses the canyon at a spectacular height.
In places, the gorge narrows to as little as 13 feet, Mr. Tansi said, funneling the flow deeper and faster downhill. Giacomo Zanfei of the regional alpine rescue team likened the flood to a tsunami.
The creek reaches the coast in the toe of the Italian peninsula, about 20 miles east of the canyon.
Guides are required in certain sections of the gorge, but the authorities said the number of missing could be higher in areas that are freely accessible to hikers. The names and pictures of the missing were circulated on social media on Tuesday.
“The wave of flooding of the Raganello stream happens often in the winter,” Luca Franzese, of the alpine rescue squad in Calabria, told the news agency ANSA. “But it has never happened in the summer, when the stream is very popular among tourists.”