Man dies as Mediterranean hurricane batters southern Italy

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Blue Earth in the space. Hurricane seen from the space over planet Earth. Storm, hurricane, typhoon - concept cataclysm. Elements of this image furnished by NASA.

PALERMO, Sicily – Fierce storms battered southern Italy for a second day on Monday, killing at least one person, triggering landslides and leaving roads and fields flooded, police said.

The body of a 67-year-old man was recovered in a citrus grove, far from where he was last seen after his car got hit by rising waters and mud, southwest of the Sicilian city of Catania. His wife is still missing, emergency services said.

Italian weather site said parts of Sicily and the adjacent toe of Italy, Calabria, were being pounded by a rare Mediterranean hurricane, known as a Medicane, with winds expected to gust up to 120 kmph (75 mph) later on Monday.

The farmers’ association in Sicily said in a statement that more than 300 mm (11.8 inches) of rain fell near Catania in just a few hours on Sunday – nearly half the average annual rainfall on the Mediterranean island.

The Civil Protection emergency relief body issued its highest red alert for the northern tip of Sicily and southern Calabria on Monday, warning of potential risk to life and damage to property in those areas.

Schools were closed in a number of towns and cities, dozens of flights were diverted from the area, and ferry links between the southern islands were cancelled.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Hugh Lawson)