After heavy rainfall, the Italian regions of Emilia-Romagna and Marche experienced flooding, some of which were dramatic. The area on the Adriatic coast has been hit by severe storms since Tuesday. At least eight people were killed, according to Irene Priolo, Vice President of the most severely affected region, Emilia-Romagna. There are also reports of missing people.
The provinces of Ravenna, Forlì-Cesena, Rimini and Bologna are hardest hit - and in particular the cities of Faenza, Cesena and Forlì, according to the Italian fire brigade. The fire brigade has been on more than 600 missions since Tuesday morning and was on site with around 400 firefighters. They rescued people who were trapped in their houses by the water, or motorists stranded in the water masses. In the town of Cesena, where the Savio River burst its banks, emergency services rescued dozens of people stranded on the roofs of their homes.
Italy has been plagued by extreme weather so far this year. While it was still very dry in winter and early spring and rivers and lakes carried exceptionally little water, there was now heavy rainfall.
"Floods and droughts are complementary events that do not cancel each other out," climate scientist Massimiliano Pasqui of Italy's National Research Council told the Corriere della Sera newspaper. "The soils have been losing moisture for months. But since they have dried out, they can no longer absorb the rainwater that has poured over the parched areas in enormous quantities during these hours, paving the way for flooding."
Fields resemble seascapes
Pictures and videos from the fire brigade showed how entire streets were under water, mudslides blocked roads and fields resembled seascapes because of the water masses. Due to the exceptionally heavy rainfall, 21 of the 23 rivers in the region burst their banks. 37 municipalities were affected by the floods. The authorities also registered 250 landslides, 120 of them with serious consequences.
Regional President Stefano Bonaccini spoke of "incredible numbers and a large number of evacuees". The civil defense also reported about 50,000 people without electricity and 100,000 people without a mobile phone network. Regional rail traffic in Emilia-Romagna has been completely discontinued. In 36 hours, it rained an average of 200 liters of water per square meter, and even 500 liters in some areas.
A woman in Faenza reported how quickly the masses of water made their way - within ten minutes, according to her, the water rose almost to the first floor of her house. "A neighbor of mine was alone in the house with four small children, she called for help and nobody came. We stayed with them all night, in their pajamas. The children cried. A disaster," she is quoted by Ansa as saying.
Mountain rescuers on duty too
The emergency services also brought some people to safety with helicopters. In addition, around 40 mountain rescuers who specialize in rescues in flooded areas are on duty to help people. The Italian Coast Guard is also involved.
According to the Italian Minister for Civil Protection, Nello Musumeci, the government has already approved 10 million euros for the first expenses and emergencies resulting from the floods. Thousands of people are affected by the evacuations. Civil protection continued to call on people to be very careful in the coming hours. Accordingly, the weather could improve in the afternoon.
In view of the situation on site, Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni also expressed her "full solidarity" with the people in the affected regions. "The government is closely following the development of events and stands ready to take the necessary relief measures," she wrote on Twitter. "The government is there - on the side of the affected population and the institutions of the region," she said.
Formula 1 races cancelled
The Formula 1 race planned for Sunday in Imola in the area has been canceled due to the flooding. The racing series announced on Wednesday that it was not safe to hold the Grand Prix in Italy under the current circumstances. "It would not be right to put further pressure on the local authorities and security forces at this difficult time," it said after consultations between the Formula 1 leadership and the responsible ministries, the regional administration and the Italian motorsport association.
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