Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption, Sicily's coasts were buffeted by 5m-high (16ft) waves as Cyclone Apollo approached

Streets were flooded and train lines blocked as Cyclone Apollo approached the Italian island of Sicily on Friday, after a week of deadly storms.

Three people have already died this week and the regional leader told people on the island to stay at home to avoid what was described as a "medicane" or Mediterranean hurricane.

Gales, torrential rain and flooding hit the towns of Augusta and Syracuse.

Emergency services rescued dozens of people from storm-damaged homes.

Eight months of rainfall fell on Sicily in a matter of eight hours, civil defence volunteers said, as Apollo ravaged the south and east coast.

Image source, EPAImage caption, Not a river but a road that turned into a river in the Syracuse area of Sicily

Emergency services faced hundreds of calls for help as streets flooded in the two big towns on the south-east coast.

Some areas of the island saw up to 150mm of rainfall in just six hours, Rai TV reported. One road was cut off by a landslide.

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Routes in and out of Augusta were deluged as rivers burst their banks.

Residents shared images on social media of flooded streets. "This is the situation in my town," said one. Entrances and exits to the town were blocked and rain was falling non-stop, she added.

Questa è la situazione nella mia città, Augusta provincia di Siracusa.
Accessi ed uscite dalla città sono bloccate.
Piove ininterrottamente da stanotte.#medicane #sicilia #maltempo #29ottobre pic.twitter.com/MR0IEmMXMJ

— lamenteastratta (@lamenteastratta) October 29, 2021
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Augusta Mayor Giuseppe Di Mare said the town's road network was "on its knees".

"If you have to go out for non-essential reasons, take care and avoid areas where there is water," he said.

Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption, Bus and rail travel drew to a halt as key routes were blocked

Sicilian President Nello Musumeci called on people to stay at home and wait for the weather to improve.

The local hospital in Augusta flooded, as did the hospital further up the coast in Catania. Six babies were born overnight there as water seeped into the hospital rooms, according to a local journalist.

Image source, EPAImage caption, Storm damage in Syracuse

Civil protection officers rescued one family by boat when their home was flooded.

Despite all the flooding, Cyclone Apollo was still several hours from reaching the island on Friday.

Scientists say climate change caused by human activity is making such extreme weather events more frequent and intense.

Image source, Italian fire brigadeImage caption, The fire brigade rescued dozens of people caught up in the flooding and storm damage

Three days earlier it was Catania that bore the brunt of the flooding, as water gushed through the historic centre of the city, turning its central Via Etnea into a river.

Mayor Salvo Pogliese said the east of the island was experiencing exceptional weather events that were "unprecedented" in their intensity.

Three people have died in the floods. A man aged 53 drowned after getting out of his car in high waters in Gravina, north of Catania.

Another man was found on Monday and his wife's body was found some distance away on Thursday.