(Adds search to continue through night with lights)
ROME, Aug 20 (Reuters) - At least eight people were killed in southern Italy on Monday when the level of a raging white-water creek in a deep mountain gorge swelled suddenly after heavy rainfall upstream, officials said.
The national civil protection department said 18 people were rescued and six of those were injured in the flash rush of water in the Calabria region.
It was not clear how many people were missing because not all had entered the gorge with official guides and registered. Spotlights were brought to the area so the search could continue during the night.
The nationalities of the dead and injured were not immediately known. Most tourists and trekkers who visit the area, in the country’s deep south, are Italian.
In some places the Raganello creek, part of the Pollino National Park, is at the bottom of a narrow, one-kilometre-deep gorge in the mountain. Rescue teams used ropes to descend the sides of the mountain to reach the site.
Images on national television showed helmeted mountain rescue squads rushing from the nearest town, Civita, to reach the gorge, a popular tourist attraction in summer.
The most seriously injured were taken by helicopter to hospitals in the provincial capital, Cosenza.
Last week, a motorway bridge collapsed in the northern Italian port city of Genoa, killing 43 people.
Reporting by Philip Pullella Editing by Mark Heinrich