At least 3 dead as heavy floods batter northern Italy
Rome, May 17 (EFE).- At least three people died, several went missing and nearly 5,000 were evacuated as heavy flooding affected several towns in the Emilia Romagna region in northern Italy, authorities reported on Wednesday.
The torrential downpour that struck a large part of Italy caused up to 14 rivers to swell and overflow, affecting the cities of Cesena, Faenza and Riccione, all of which were completely flooded.
Of the three people found dead so far, one was a man who lived on the ground floor of a house in Cesena that was flooded when the banks of the nearby Montone River overflowed.
In Ronta di Cesena, a 70-year-old man was also found dead in his house, while the body of another male victim washed up on the beach of Cesenatico, authorities said.
At least four other people were missing.
Civil Protection Minister Nello Musumeci confirmed that 5,000 people were evacuated and that there could be more evacuations throughout the day as rains continued to batter the region.
Several sports centers have been prepared to shelter residents forced to leave their homes, he said.
Efforts to rescue people trapped on the upper floors or the roofs of buildings would continue Wednesday, Musumeci added.
In total, 14 rain-swollen rivers have overflowed, and widespread floods were reported in 23 municipalities, civil protection authorities said.
“We spent a night that we will never forget. A flood that the history of our city had never known. Something unimaginable,” said Faenza Mayor Massimo Isola.
The mayor of Cesena, Enzo Lattuca, reported that rivers were still overflowing and called on citizens “to stay away from waterways and leave basements and ground floors.”
Lattuca added that “in the next 6 hours the rainfall will continue”.
In Bologna, the city council also issued a flood warning.
Titti Postiglione, deputy director of Italy’s civil protection department, said issues with the national road and rail network were reported.
The official urged citizens to abide by the measures adopted or recommended by the authorities and to exercise “maximum caution.”
“The emergency has not ended,” Postiglione told the Rai News channel.
The head of the Emilia Romagna region, Stefano Bonaccin, posted a video on his social media channels claiming that “the situation is truly dramatic in many areas.”
“We had decreed a weather alert closing schools and limiting movement, but the amount of water that fell today in some areas exceeded that which fell two weeks ago, which was already an unprecedented amount,” Bonaccin warned. EFE