Thirteen dead, stricken municipalities, devastated crops: Emilia-Romagna, a rich region considered “the orchard of Italy”, deplores Thursday considerable damage caused by floods of rare intensity, signs according to the authorities of the “tropicalization” of the Mediterranean climate.
About twenty rivers have left their bed in the plains of this region of 4.5 million inhabitants, popular with tourists for its historic cities such as Parma and Ravenna, its green landscapes, its gastronomy and its Adriatic coast.
According to all the media, thirteen people were killed, a figure that official sources did not confirm on Thursday evening.
More than 10,000 residents had to leave their homes.
Italy is experiencing a rainy and cool month of May, but a veritable deluge has hit Emilia-Romagna in recent days: huge agricultural areas have been submerged under water, ravaging cereal fields, market gardening, fodder for livestock, entire villages were washed away by muddy floods, bridges collapsed and 400 roads collapsed, landslides dug the relief.
Locally, the equivalent of six months of precipitation fell in a few hours.
The damage would be counted in billions of euros, to which are added an estimated two billion after the floods which have already hit the region at the beginning of the month.
“Five thousand farms have ended up under water: greenhouses, nurseries, barns with drowned animals, tens of thousands of hectares flooded with vines, kiwis, pears, apples, vegetables and cereals, ”detailed the organization on Thursday.
The mayor of Ravenna, Michele De Pascale, indicated Thursday that if the inhabitants of certain evacuated localities could return to their homes, others had to leave, dikes and banks of certain rivers threatening to break.
Stefano Bonaccini, president of the Emilia-Romagna region, on Thursday compared the magnitude and consequences of the disaster to the earthquake that struck the region on May 20, 2012 and which caused more than 10 billion euros in material damage. .
Where the waters receded, residents worked to clean up mud-covered houses and streets littered with debris.
In Lugo, Andrea Ancherani shows traces of mud in his apartment, invaded by the flood. “Nobody here remembers having experienced that. Last night it was very difficult but today we are here, we are working, waiting for someone to come and clear the streets,” he told AFP.
For authorities and experts, these exceptional calamities will become the norm. “Nothing will be the same as before because this process of tropicalization which is rising in Africa is also affecting Italy,” warned the Minister of Civil Protection, Nello Musumeci, on Wednesday.
Paradoxically, these downpours hit a country chronically affected by drought. However, they will not make it possible to reduce the water deficit linked to the scarcity of snow in the mountains and average precipitation, warn the specialists.
According to experts, climate change due to human activity is increasing the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, such as heat waves, droughts and forest fires, but also storms accompanied by heavy rains.
These floods led to the cancellation of the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Emilia-Romagna scheduled for Sunday at Imola, due to the worrying rise in the level of a river near the paddock.
“The cancellation of the Grand Prix is a blow but the most important thing is that we can help all those who have been evacuated, all those who are suffering from this extreme climate”, reacted in a video on Twitter the Spaniard Carlos Sainz, driver of the F1 Ferrari team whose birthplace is in Emilia-Romagna.
Near the circuit, Frans Wijnen, who came from the Netherlands to see the double world champion Max Verstappen run, is just as sorry.
“I respect the decision of the organization and the local authorities. People have lost their lives near here and the number of victims continues to rise, ”laments to AFP this Dutchman wearing an orange cap bearing crests in the colors of his country and Italy.
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