Heavy rains are continuing to fall across Italy causing some of the worst flooding in decades.

Hardest hit yesterday was the southern province of Salerno where hundreds had to be evacuated from their homes after several rivers burst their banks.

Half a million people are reported to be without drinking water.

Since Monday numerous regions have been struggling to cope as businesses suffer, transport links are disrupted and schools are closed.

Much of the country's farms are suffering, with crops and livestock lost.

One chicken farmer described his helplessness at hearing the frantic cries from his 20,000 flock as the rising waters claimed them - followed by silence!

In the northern province of Veneto it is estimated that damage amounting to 300 million euros has been caused, provoking Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to allocate emergency funds to help bolster the local economy.