A couple in northern Italy say their cats helped them escape their collapsing home Monday night when a violent storm triggered a landslide.

Claudio Piana and his wife Sabrina Pellegrini had been asleep in their home in Campo Ligure as torrential rain inundated the region, Italian daily Secolo XIX reported.

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“My wife got up because Simba and Mose, our cats, were making a noise and woke us up,” Piani told the paper. “She realized they were playing with a piece of plaster which had just fallen off the ceiling. Then we saw cracks opening in the walls.”

The severe weather pounding northern Italy had killed a taxi driver and forced dozens to evacuate their homes as rivers overflowed, washed away a bridge and set off landslides, Agence France-Presse reported.

Torrential rain and landslides left behind a sea of mud in parts of northern Italy.

Torrential rain and landslides left behind a sea of mud in parts of northern Italy.
(Vigili del Fuoco)

Piani and Pellegrini were unaware that one such landslide had damaged their home’s foundation as they slept, Secolo XIX reported. The couple said they escaped outside to their car, where they became trapped in a river of flowing mud. Firefighters eventually rescued them, Piani said.

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He told the paper that he didn’t know the house had collapsed until his brother called to tell him. Piani said that firefighters wouldn’t allow them back into the house to get any belongings because it was too dangerous.

Italy’s fire and rescue service Vigili del Fuoco posted a photo of the aftermath in the region, showing damaged homes, fallen trees and a mud-covered street.

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While the couple seemed to have lost everything in the landslide, Piani said there was one piece of good news.

“At least Simba and Mose are safe,” he said of the hero cats.