ROME, JULY 19 -- Heavy alpine rains that left 22 dead in a mudslide in France last week continued to cause havoc across the Italian Alps today, claiming at least 16 more lives.
After four days of solid rain in the Alps in northern Lombardy, near Lake Como, Italian Civil Defense officials announced tonight that 16 people were dead and six were missing. The state-run RAI broadcasting network said 14 people had died.
Floods and mudslides affected a wide band of northern Italy, from Bergamo, east of Milan, to Bolzano, about 155 miles to the northeast near the Swiss border.
It was feared the toll would rise once isolated or flooded villages in the region were reached by the thousands of rescue workers who labored around the clock to bring relief to the area.
The worst disaster so far occurred at the mountain village of Tartano, near Sondrio, late last night when a mudslide devastated a wing of a resort hotel and apartment complex. As of 7 o'clock tonight, officials had recovered 12 bodies from the wreckage and said that another six people were missing.
At least two other people were confirmed dead and two others were missing in scattered locales in a 200-square-mile triangle north of Bergamo that has become a vast plain of rushing brown water. Italian Civil Defense Ministry officials said tonight they feared there would be more dangerous flooding farther east in the South Tyrol region, where the extraordinary torrential rains have moved.
Tonight the Adige River was reported overflowing its banks near the regional capital of Bolzano and many road and rail bridges reportedly had been knocked out. Officials advised anyone living near a river to evacuate the area.
"The situation is very serious," said Giuseppe Zamberletti, the Italian minister of civil defense, after taking a helicopter to Tartano early today. "The rivers in flood are causing disasters in the whole province."
The 1,500 Civil Defense personnel involved in the rescue effort were being assisted by 3,000 alpine troops. They were supported by a fleet of Italian Air Force helicopters, some of which were used to evacuate 60 vacationing youths from an endangered camp early this morning north of Tartano.
Zamberletti said tonight that warnings had gone out to the South Tyrol to prepare for the worst.
He said he hopes there has been enough warning about the storm to avoid a repetition of the disaster that struck a campground last Tuesday near Annecy, France, where a mudslide killed 22 people.