Newsdeck

Italy floods

Eight dead and thousands evacuated as floods batter northern Italy

Eight dead and thousands evacuated as floods batter northern Italy
A citizen with an inflatable kayak goes back and forth between the flooded houses to bring some people stuck in the house to dry land, in Cesena, Italy, 17 May 2023. A fresh wave of torrential rain is battering Italy, especially the northeastern region of Emilia-Romagna and other parts of the Adriatic coast. EPA-EFE/MAX CAVALLARI

ROME, May 17 (Reuters) - At least eight people died and thousands were evacuated from their homes as torrential rain battered Italy's northern Emilia-Romagna region, triggering widespread floods, officials said on Wednesday.

Civil Protection Minister Nello Musumeci said some areas had received half their average annual rainfall in just 36 hours, causing rivers to burst their banks, sending water cascading through towns and submerging thousands of acres of farmland.

Eight bodies had been retrieved from various locations, the vice president of Emilia-Romagna, Irene Priolo, told reporters, adding that the rains were easing but that river levels were still rising.

This weekend’s Formula One race in Imola, which is close to many of the worst-hit areas, was called off after the government said the emergency services had to concentrate on the rescue operation.

“The decision has been taken because it is not possible to safely hold the event for our fans, the teams and our personnel,” the Formula One organisers said in a statement.

Muddy waters flowed through the streets of Faenza, Cesena and Forli, just to the south of Imola, washing over the roofs of parked cars, submerging some stores and forcing locals to flee to the top stories of their homes.

“Do not go near the rivers. Those who live in areas close to watercourses should move to higher floors,” the president of the Emilia-Romagna region Stefano Bonaccini said on Facebook.

Road and rail links were blocked in numerous locations and the mayors of many towns and cities, including Bologna, urged residents not to leave their homes.

The northern city of Ravenna, famed for its early Christian heritage sites, was also badly affected.

“It’s probably been the worst night in the history of Romagna,” Ravenna Mayor Michele de Pascale told RAI public radio, saying that 5,000 people had been evacuated from his city alone overnight.

“Ravenna is unrecognisable for the damage it has suffered.”

It was the second time this month that Emilia-Romagna has been battered by bad weather, with at least two people dying during storms at the beginning of May.

Minister Musumeci said between 200mm to 500mm of rain fell in some parts of the region in 1-1/2 days, compared with an average annual rainfall of 1,000 mm.

Venice, further north, has not been affected.

The torrential rains followed months of drought which dried out the land, reducing its capacity to absorb water and worsening the impact of the floods, meteorologists said.

By Crispian Balmer

(Reporting by Angelo Amante, Crispian Balmer and Alvise Armellini, Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Gareth Jones and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.