Death toll rises to 13 from N. Italy floods

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The torrential rain eased in Italy's Emilia-Romagna region on Thursday but much of the area remained under water. The death toll from flooding and landslides rose to at least 13, with dozens of people still listed as missing, reported Xinhua, quoting local media.

Video footage from Thursday showed streets in the commune of Sant'Agata sul Santerno and in parts of the seaside town of Ravenna completely flooded.

The country's north-central region that includes the cities of Bologna and Modena was battered by heavy rainfall on Tuesday and Wednesday, causing flash floods and mudslides. Rescue workers helped evacuate people from rooftops and the upper floor of higher buildings.

According to the Civil Protection Department, much of Emilia-Romagna was still a "red alert" zone on Thursday, with parts of many other regions — from Lombardy in the north to Basilicata in the south — under "orange" or "yellow alert" (the two lower emergency levels).

Severe weather alerts remain in effect over much of north-central Italy through at least midnight Saturday local time.

The department also said on Thursday afternoon that more than 280 landslides had been reported, with 200 roads closed, and that 23 rivers had overflowed their banks.

According to news reports, more than 10,000 people in the area had been forced from their homes, and tens of thousands were without electricity. In a statement, electric utility Enel said that some 700 technicians had been dispatched to the region to help restore power.

Stefano Bonaccini, president of the Emilia-Romagna region, estimated on Thursday the damage to the region to reach "several billion euros" and on social media he published bank account information to facilitate donations to the region.

Minister of Environment and Energy Security Gilberto Pichetto Fratin on Thursday said the government would ask the European Commission to grant access to the European Union Solidarity Fund to support relief and reconstruction efforts in the region, according to ANSA news agency.

The government has called an emergency cabinet meeting for next Tuesday, where ministers are expected to declare a state of emergency in Emilia-Romagna, a status that will unlock government funds and give local officials extra authority to implement emergency measures.

  •  Italy
  •  Flood


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