Eight-year-old girl is pulled to safety from Italian gorge

Eight-year-old girl is pulled to safety from Italian gorge after ‘avalanche of water’ – but her parents are believed to be among the eleven hikers killed

  • Eleven hikers have now died in flash floods in Italy’s southern Calabria region
  • Several hiking groups were caught by the flooding in the Raganello river gorge 
  • Authorities said 23 people had been rescued – including an eight-year-old girl
  • She was found in a state of shock next to a body by the mountain rescue service 

An eight-year-old girl was pulled to safety after an ‘avalanche of water’ killed 11 hikers as they made their way through a narrow gorge in Italy.

Several hiking groups were caught on Monday afternoon by the flooding in the Raganello river gorge in southern Cozenza province. Five people are still missing, rescue services said today.

Authorities said 23 people had been rescued – including an eight-year-old girl whose parents are believed to be among the dead – and a 10-year-old boy who was treated for hypothermia.

An eight year-old girl is rescued by the mountain rescue service in the Gorge of Raganello where the flash flood killed 11 people in Civita, southern Italy

They said the incident involved two groups of 18 hikers each, with powerful floodlights brought up to allow rescuers to work through the night.

The nationalities of the dead and injured were not immediately known. Most tourists and trekkers who visit the area, in the country’s deep south, are Italian.


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TV images showed helmeted rescue workers holding survivors as they were brought to safety on ropes.

Rescue workers saved 23 people on Monday after some 8ft of rain filled the narrow gorge, which features rock faces as high as 700m (2,300 ft).

Eleven people were hospitalised, including the 10-year-old boy treated for hypothermia.

The girl receives medical assistance aboard an helicopter after being rescued in the Raganello Gorge


The eight-year-old girl was found in a state of shock next to a body. Her parents were believed to be among the dead

Pasquale Gagliardi, a doctor with an emergency helicopter service, told ANSA that one survivor was an eight-year-old girl, found in a state of shock next to a body.

Her parents were believed to be among the dead.

‘A real avalanche of water came unexpectedly. We did not have time to do anything. I was lucky, it was an incredible thing,’ a Dutch hiker told local media.

On Monday, this part of Calabria experienced several hours of heavy rain and strong winds although conditions began to improve during the evening.

The dramatic gorges carved by the Raganello river are only recommended for experienced hikers due to the many challenges posed by the route, which at certain times of the year is rendered off-limits.

Italy’s civil protection agency said at least three people were missing, although the number could be higher since guides were not mandatory inside the Raganello Gorge, a popular spot for aquatic trekking.

A rescue helicopter is seen after several people were killed in a mountain gorge flooding, in the municipality of Civita

The head of civil protection in Calabria, Carlo Tansi said: ‘The problem is we don’t know how many people were knocked over by this flood.

‘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.’

Italian prosecutors on Tuesday opened a criminal investigation into the deaths of the hikers.

Prosecutor Eugenio Facciolla said authorities were investigating possible charges including manslaughter, causing bodily harm and official negligence. No target has been identified.

The victims were among two groups of trekkers on an excursion in the 7.5 mile long gorge, inside the vast Pollino National Park.

Rescuers are seen at the Raganello Gorge, a popular hiking spot near the Italian town of Civita

TV images show rescuers scaling down the side of a steep rock face to bring hikers to safety

Search operations continued through the night, and the head of the civil protection agency in Calabria, Carlo Tansi, said one of the bodies was found three miles (5km) from the flooded area.

A local resident who helped respond to the emergency, identified only as Claudio, told ANSA that he helped two youths from Naples, who managed to climb out of the gorge on their own.

‘They were in a state of shock and they arrived without shoes and with cuts from the rocks. They recounted a terrifying situation,’ he said.

The local authorities strictly limited access to the area and have also marked certain rocky areas in order to help rescuers’ efforts to locate hikers in trouble.

Rescuers and citizens wait in the central square of Civita, a village in the Italian Calabria southern region

A rescue helicopter takes off after several people were killed in a mountain gorge flooding

Rescuers and citizens wait in the central square of Civita, a village in the Calabria region

Rescue vehicles gather in Civita to save up to 36 hikers who got caught in the flash flood

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.

The gorge is broken down into three sections, the upper, mid and lower canyons, with hikes averaging between 2 and 3 hours and varying in difficult.

Guides include spelunkers and rescue instructors, who supply helmets, wet suits and other equipment.

In some places the Raganello creek, part of the Pollino National Park, is at the bottom of a narrow, deep gorge in the mountain. Rescue teams used ropes to descend the sides of the mountain to reach the site.

Images on national television showed helmeted mountain rescue squads rushing from the nearest town, Civita, to reach the gorge, a popular tourist attraction in summer.

Last week, a motorway bridge collapsed in the northern Italian port city of Genoa, killing 43 people. 

Rescuers work at the Raganello Gorge in Civita, Italy, on Monday after 11 people were killed when heavy rain flooded a gorge filled with hikers

Eleven people were killed when a rain-swollen river flooded a gorge in the southern region of Calabria

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