Wednesday, May 17, 2023
Authorities said Wednesday that at least five people have died after the devastating storms hit the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna with massive flooding sparked by 15 rivers that broke their banks, forcing people to seek refuge on the rooftops.
The severe weather condition culminated in severe inundation which engulfed the towns. There were also land slidings in the area.
According to Rai News, five deaths were confirmed by the prefect of Forlì-Cesena.
The civil protection agency of Italy said Wednesday that the worst was likely to come. "The rainfall is not over, it will continue for several [more] hours," the agency's head, Titti Postiglione, told SkyTG24 news.
"We are facing a very, very complicated situation."
Since the heavy precipitation across Italy, Emilia-Romagna and parts of the central Marche region are the areas worst affected by the rains where at least 12 lost lives last September.
Several videos surfaced on social media showing the devastation caused by the flood where people were stranded on the rooftops with floodwater taking their vehicles.
Massimo Isola, the mayor of Faenza, said: "We had a night that we will never forget. We've never known such flooding in our city, it is something unimaginable."
"The situation is disastrous, it’s a catastrophe, and the rain has not yet finished," Enzo Lattuca, the mayor of Cesena.
He said Wednesday morning that the River Savio was starting to swell again.
A bridge collapsed overnight which was connecting Motta-Budrio with San Martino in the area of Bologna. “Do not go near it,” warned the fire service of Italy, saying that "there is a gas pipeline close by which also seems to be affected."
Approximately five thousand people have been evacuated from the flood-stricken areas.
"It's probably the worst night in the history of Romagna," Michele de Pascale, the mayor of Ravenna, told Rai radio.
"Ravenna is unrecognisable for the damage it has suffered."
Dario Nardella, the mayor of Florence, said: "Mountain villages on the Romagna side of the Mugello valley had been cut off due to landslides."
Italian prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, in her social media post, expressed "total closeness to the affected population," and said that the government was closely "monitoring the situation".
The deputy prime minister, Antonio Tajani, said the government would "do everything to help the population hit by the flooding in Emilia-Romagna."
"From those evacuated to the agricultural companies that have lost entire harvests," he added.
"The rescue forces and volunteers are heroes. I pray for the victims and their families."
Severe weather conditions have grappled Italy as it is among the countries vulnerable to climate change. Emilia-Romagna and parts of Marche were also affected by severe flooding in early May which led to the death of two people.
2022 was the hottest year for Italy in which 310 extreme weather occurrences were recorded leading to the deaths of 29 people, said Legambiente, an environmental group.
Last year November, 12 people have been died due to a landslide on the island of Ischia.
In a report by the Italian environment agency, Ispra in 2021 said: "7,423 municipalities [93.4% of the total] across the country were at risk of landslides, floods and coastal erosion. However, the government has done little to mitigate the risk."
Prior to the severe inundation, Emilia-Romagna and other areas of northern Italy were hit by a drought that died the land and reduced the capacity of water absorption.