Rescuers work at the Raganello Gorge in Civita, Italy today: TV images show rescuers scaling down the side of a steep rock face to bring hikers to safety

Rescuers work at the Raganello Gorge in Civita, Italy today: TV images show rescuers scaling down the side of a steep rock face to bring hikers to safety
At least 10 people were killed in southern Italy on Monday when they were hurled over rocks by a raging white-water creek in a deep mountain gorge that swelled suddenly after heavy rainfall upstream, officials said.

At least another five are missing, including one believed to be a local guide.

Another 23 people were rescued from the flash flood in the Raganello Gorge, five of whom were hospitalised, including a 10-year-old boy who was being treated for hypothermia.

Powerful lights were being used to help rescuers work under cover of darkness, regional civil protection chief Carlo Tansi said.

A Dutch hiker, quoted in local media, said: 'A real avalanche of water came unexpectedly. We did not have time to do anything. I was lucky, it was an incredible thing.'


It was unclear how many people were missing but there were at least 36 hikers in two organised groups inside the seven mile long gorge, a popular aquatic trekking spot.

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

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.

Guides are not required, making it impossible to know how many people were on their own inside the canyon.

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.

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

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

Earlier on Monday 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.

Rescuers work at the Raganello Gorge

Rescuers work at the Raganello Gorge
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.

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.

A view of the Raganello Gorge in Civita

A view of the Raganello Gorge in Civita
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.