At least nine dead in floods in Italy

Flooding caused by heavy rain in Emilia-Romagna, north-central Italy, has left at least nine people dead, several missing and thousands evacuated, leading to the cancellation of the Formula 1 Grand Prix scheduled for this weekend in the region.

“Unfortunately the number of victims has worsened”, declared to the press Irene Priolo, vice-president of the region, estimating at “more than 10,000” the number of people evacuated. The regional authorities have so far reported nine deaths, the majority of them in the regions of Forli and Cesena.

50,000 people without electricity

The streets of many localities in the plain were submerged by water after heavy rainfall and many inhabitants found themselves trapped, forced to take refuge in the floors or on the roofs of their houses, while many local roads were impassable.

According to Civil Protection Minister Nello Musumeci, 50,000 people are without electricity. “If we had designed a rainwater distribution network capable of absorbing 1,000 millimeters in twelve months, we must now think of a system that will have to absorb 500 millimeters in forty-eight hours”, he commented. . “Nothing will be the same as before because this process of tropicalization that is rising from Africa is also affecting Italy,” added Musumeci.

“Consequence of climate change”

The repetition of extreme weather events “may be the consequence of ongoing climate change,” Colonel Paolo Capizzi of the Air Force weather service told AFP. “Sooner or later, the water deficit is filled, but sometimes too quickly,” adds the expert, recalling the drought of recent months in Italy and predicting the same meteorological instability for “the next few days”.

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“I, who was born here, have never seen this, this time we are really scared,” Simona Matassoni, owner of the Savio hotel in Cesena, on the Adriatic coast, told AFP. phone. On the night of Tuesday to Wednesday, residents of the vicinity of the commune of Forli, where the first victim was found, fled barefoot, shocked, in the dark, with water up to their chests, according to a AFP photographer on site.

The government “ready to intervene”

Italian civil protection said that 14 rivers came out of their beds between Tuesday and Wednesday and that 23 municipalities were flooded. She called on Twitter to take “maximum precautions”, as mayors in the region urged their fellow citizens to take refuge at altitude.

Residents “must not go into cellars or basements under any circumstances, and avoid the ground floors if possible”, warned the mayor of Cesena, Enzo Lattuca, on Facebook. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Wednesday expressed her support for those affected by the floods, assuring that the government was “ready to intervene with the necessary assistance”.

Emilia-Romagna had already been affected two weeks ago by heavy rains which had caused floods and landslides killing two people and causing damage in agriculture of around 300 million euros, according to the Coldiretti union. This depression, which is hitting Italy the hardest, has also caused flooding on the other side of the Adriatic, in Croatia and Bosnia, with no casualties so far.

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