ROME (Reuters) - Torrential rain and storms battered southern and central Italy for a second day on Thursday, leading to the deaths of at least four people and reviving a controversy over environmental neglect in the country.
The Aniene river near Rome burst its banks late on Wednesday, with a man killed after a landslide hit the car he was traveling in. A woman died in the adjacent Abruzzo province when a wall collapsed on her during the downpour.
Two women died in the southern region of Campania on Thursday due to the adverse weather, police said.
Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti said dangers linked to flooding and landslides had long been overlooked in Italy, with unregulated construction throughout the country since World War Two exacerbating the problem.
"Our country is at risk because for years, for decades, we have neglected our land and we have not done preventative work," Galletti told TV station SkyTG24.
"If I don't paint the walls of my house for three or four years, it's fine for the first few years, but in the third or fourth they go to ruin. This is to some extent the snapshot of our country."
Forecasters warned that southern Italy would continue to be hard hit by storms until Friday, while north and central regions would be affected again over the weekend.
Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Crispian Balmer