ROME (Reuters) – At least eight people have died and thousands have fled their homes after heavy rains hit the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, causing widespread flooding, authorities said on Wednesday.
Civil Protection Minister Nero Mussi said half of the annual average rainfall in just 36 hours in some areas caused river banks to burst, causing water to cascade through towns and wipe out thousands of acres of farmland. said it was submerged.
Emilia-Romagna vice president Irene Priolo told reporters that eight bodies had been recovered from different locations, adding that although the rains had eased, river levels were still rising.
This weekend’s F1 race in Imola, near many of the hardest-hit areas, has been canceled after the government said emergency services would need to focus on rescue operations.
“This decision has been taken because it is not possible to hold the event safely for fans, teams and staff,” F1 organizers said in a statement.
Muddy water poured into the streets of Faenza, Cesena and Forli, just south of Imola, washing the roofs of parked cars and submerging some shops, forcing locals to evacuate to the top floors of their homes.
“Stay away from rivers. People who live near waterways should move to higher floors,” Emilia-Romagna president Stefano Bonaccini said on Facebook.
Roads and railroads were cut off in many places, and mayors of many towns and cities, including Bologna, urged residents to stay home.
The northern city of Ravenna, famous for its early Christian ruins, was also heavily damaged.
“It was probably the worst night in the history of Romagna,” Ravenna mayor Michele de Pascal told RAI public radio, adding that 5,000 people were evacuated in the city alone overnight.
“The damage Ravenna has suffered is beyond recognition.”
that is Second time Bad weather has hit the Emilia-Romagna region this month, with at least two people killed in a storm in early May.
Minister Musumushi said some parts of the region received between 200mm and 500mm of rain in a day and a half, while the average annual rainfall is 1,000mm.
Farther north, Venice is unaffected.
Months of drought were followed by heavy rains, which dried out the land and reduced its ability to absorb water, compounding the effects of flooding, meteorologists said.
Reporting by Alvise Armellini, Editing by Christina Fincher
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