At least nine dead in Italy after extreme rainfall in Emilia-Romagna

Emilia-Romagna, floods

This article was last updated on May 18, 2023

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Severe flooding caused by heavy rainfall claims nine lives in Emilia-Romagna

Flooding caused by heavy rainfall in northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna has claimed several lives and left many people stranded. As much rain fell within a 36-hour period in the region as does in six months, leading to widespread chaos. At least nine people have been reportedly killed, many are missing and more than 50,000 people are without electricity.

Storm aftermath

Heavy rains and flooding have caused at least 280 landslides, while over 400 roads have been blocked, leaving people cut off from the outside world, with 100,000 people disconnected from mobile phone networks. The army and coastguards are working to evacuate people affected by the floods and landslides. The government has arranged a financial package of €30m ($35m) for the region on the Adriatic coast.

Italy correspondent Heleen D’Haens

“It has stopped raining now, and the water is slowly receding. But the water is moving eastward. Those villages still have to be evacuated: so the problem is now only moving.”

They all have dams around the agriculture that have to collect the water. But there are holes in all those dams. Caused by the drought and a too low groundwater level. Furthermore, almost all rivers in the region have overflowed their banks.

It takes weeks, months or even years to repair all that damage. And that time is not here. With the next heavy rain, people here are very vulnerable. “If a new storm happens now or in the coming days, there is a real problem. They are kind of a bird to the cat.”

Impact on events

The severe flooding caused by heavy rainfall has disrupted a series of events in the region. The Formula 1 Grand Prix scheduled for April 18 at Imola, near the places affected most by flooding, was cancelled to relieve pressure on the emergency services. The organisers of Bruce Springsteen’s concert in Ferrara, which is not far from Bologna, are monitoring the situation, but the show is expected to proceed.

Call for help

However, the country has come together in its efforts to help the victims of the floods and landslides. Pope Francis has appealed to the international community to support efforts to help victims of the floods and expressed his condolences to the victims in the region. The Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, has visited the affected areas and declared a state of emergency in the region.

The way ahead

While the heavy rainfall has finally stopped, the challenge in front of the affected people includes evacuating the people who are stranded, restoring the electricity connections, repairing roads and bridges, and clearing the debris. It would require funds, coordination and efforts from the government, non-government organisations and people’s participation at large to restore normalcy and help rebuild the affected regions.

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