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At least 14 dead in floods in Italy

It’s a macabre tally that keeps getting heavier. Emilia-Romagna, a rich agricultural and tourist region in northern Italy, has been hit by catastrophic floods. This Friday, the human toll worsened further, rising to 14 dead, local authorities announced. Rescuers were still working to evacuate isolated people in their homes surrounded by flooding and the rain started to fall again after more than 24 hours of calm.

In Ravenna, the authorities decreed the “urgent and immediate evacuation” of several neighborhoods and streets on Friday morning and appealed to the population to “move only if necessary”. From 13 dead, “the human toll rose to 14” on Friday, said a spokesperson for the region, specifying that it was a man found drowned in his house in Faenza.

Billions of euros in damage

In this town at the epicenter of the floods, AFP journalists met haggard residents on Friday who were trying to clear the muddy heap, leaving their homes with furniture and household appliances covered in dirt. However, the situation seemed to be stabilizing elsewhere as the waters slowly receded. Residents and road authorities were hard at work cleaning homes, businesses and streets overrun with mud and debris, and roads that had been submerged or washed away were reopened to traffic.

The material damage amounts to billions of euros. A new disaster for the region devastated in 2012 by an earthquake then two weeks ago by the first floods. “It’s a new earthquake, lamented Friday morning on television the president of the region, Stefano Bonaccini.

“We need a real energy transition”

“Italy’s orchard”, Emilia-Romagna owes part of its prosperity to the cultivation of fruit and vegetables, but also to its tourism and the automobile industry built around Ferrari. “We will rebuild everything. But the agri-food and market gardening sector needs to be compensated 100%. We had drought, frost, and now these dramatic floods,” recalled Stefano Bonaccini. “When it comes to tourism, fortunately the coast (Adriatic, to the east) is less affected,” he added.

For the Italian Nobel Prize in Physics Giorgio Parisi, these floods are due to “climate change, rising temperatures” and “we have to get used to it”. “We need a real energy transition,” he said in an interview with the Corriere della Sera. The post-pandemic recovery plan from which Italy benefits, with 190 billion European funds committed for the peninsula, “is a good opportunity” to accelerate this transition, according to Stefano Bonaccini.

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