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Saturday, June 10, 2023  
21 Dhul-Qadah 1444  

Italy rains kill at least two as more floods feared

The official death toll stood at two: a man in Forli
<p>Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni tweeted her support for those affected. AFP</p>

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni tweeted her support for those affected. AFP

Heavy rains caused devastation across Italy’s northern Emilia Romagna region, killing at least two people, as officials warned Wednesday more floods could follow.

“The emergency is still underway,” the region said in a statement, after desperate efforts overnight to save children, the elderly and the disabled from rising waters.

The official death toll stood at two: a man in Forli, near Bologna, and one in Cesena, the region said.

But media reports said a third victim was found Wednesday on a beach in Cesenatico, while rescuers were trying to retrieve the body of a fourth from a largely submerged car near Ravenna.

Three people were also reported missing, the region said.

“The city is on its knees, devastated and in pain. It’s the end of the world,” Forli mayor Gian Luca Zattini wrote on Facebook.

It was fresh misery for an area hit by heavy rain just a fortnight ago, causing floods which left two dead.

“We’re scared, this time we’re scared,” said Simona Matassoni, the owner of the Hotel Savio in Cesena, which has so far escaped flooding.

“I was born here, I’ve seen lots of full rivers, but never anything like this,” she told AFP by telephone, adding that it was still raining.

“At the moment we’re crossing our fingers… but another flood is expected, so who knows (what will happen)”.

‘Maximum caution’ The civil protection agency said 14 rivers had broken their banks across the region between Tuesday and Wednesday, and 23 towns were flooded.

It urged “maximum caution”, as mayors warned people to stay on high ground.

“About 5,000 people have been evacuated, but that number might rise,” Civil Protection Minister Nello Musumeci told Radio 24.

At Imola, where the Formula One Emilia Romagna Grand Prix is due to take place on Sunday, the Santerno river which borders the track was flooded.

Race organisers asked journalists and team staff not to go to the circuit on Wednesday.

In Forli, an AFP photographer saw people in a state of shock late Tuesday, fleeing through floodwaters in the dark in their bare feet.

Images showed streets transformed into rivers, and firemen moving people to safety in rubber dinghies.

Elsewhere, muddy waters rushed at great speed under the arches of the covered walkways in Bologna, while locals in Cesena swam down a road to rescue a three-year-old child.

“We absolutely must not lower our guard,” Cesena mayor Enzo Lattuca said on Facebook.

Residents “must not under any account go into basements or cellars”, and should “stay out of ground floors if possible”, he said.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Tuesday tweeted her support for those affected and said the government was “ready to intervene with the necessary aid”.

Some areas saw almost 300 millimetres of rain in just a few hours, Repubblica daily said.

Much of northern Italy suffered a drought last winter, on top of a record lack of rain last summer that ruined harvests.

However, spring has been wetter and colder than normal across the country.

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