Image: Rising Tiber River
The view at left shows the swollen Tiber river in Rome on Thursday. The photo at right shows the river at a much lower level.
updated 12/11/2008 10:23:35 AM ET 2008-12-11T15:23:35

A violent storm flooded parts of Rome on Thursday, killing at least one person, and the sea again threatened Venice as a wave of bad weather continued to plague Italy.

Firefighters in the capital said they had to evacuate dozens of people trapped in cars on flooded streets and on ground floors of buildings.

Rescuers found one woman dead inside her car, which was submerged in an underpass as hail and rain poured down on Rome early Thursday, spokesman Gennaro Tornatore said.

Snow has fallen in northern Italy over the last few days and the bad weather is now reaching across the center and south of the country.

"The situation in Rome is critical, but the weather conditions tell us we need to keep an eye on the south too," Tornatore said.

Mayor Gianni Alemanno asked authorities to declare a state of emergency. The civil protection said it was monitoring several swelling rivers, including the Tiber, which flows through Rome, and Florence's Arno.

Image: Flooded St. Mark's Square
Luigi Costantini  /  AP
St. Mark's Square in Venice flooded again on Thursday.
Authorities urged Italians not to travel by car unless strictly necessary. The weather has been snarling traffic in cities and causing delays at train stations and airports across the country.

In Venice, alarms sounded early in the morning as the high tide came in, flooding the city's lowest parts, including the landmark St. Mark's Square.

The historic piazza was covered only in a few inches of water, far less than last week, when an unusually high tide caused one of the worst floods in the city's recorded history.

However, the municipality said strong southern winds pushing water into the lagoon could increase the high tide level on Thursday night.

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