People cross a flooded street in front of the Colosseum on October 20, 2011 in Rome. An elderly died during a violent storm with heavy rain early moring and a tube line had to be closed following floods.

One person has died and another is missing after a storm lashed the Italian capital, with flash floods closing metro lines, halting road traffic and delaying some flights.

Firefighters recovered the body of a 32-year-old Sri Lankan immigrant who drowned in his flooded basement apartment on Thursday. Earlier reports had mistakenly said the victim was an elderly man.

Emergency workers were still searching for another person missing near Ostia, a town on the coast near Rome.

And members of the paramilitary carabinieri had to rescue a family that got trapped in its basement flat in the afternoon. Elsewhere, in the north of the capital, a lift collapsed, but no one was hurt.

Police reported having received more than 2000 calls as homes, shops and vehicles were flooded.

Both the capital’s metro lines were heavily disrupted, but stations stayed open to provide shelter to commuters and tourists caught in the downpour.

As the electrical storm continued, trains running between the city and Rome’s Fiumicino airport were delayed. Flights out of the airport were also held up for periods of up to 30 minutes.

Cars with flooded engines blocked traffic in the capital’s cobbled streets around the President’s palace and the Sapienza University.

Rome’s mayor, Gianni Alemanno, said he would declare “a state of emergency” but reassured citizens that the rain should ease up, significantly reducing the risk that the city’s Tiber river would burst its banks.

“Today’s events are exceptional; we have had episodes of this type on only two other occasions in the last 10 years,” he said, adding that 74 millimetres of rain had fallen in an hour and a half.