At least 13 dead and more missing as floods hit northern Italy

The flooding has left some places sunk in thick muddy water.
The flooding has left some places sunk in thick muddy water. Copyright Luca Bruno/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Mark Armstrong with AP, AFP
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Italy declares a state of emergency in the north as at least 13 people die and others are missing after devastating floods that have left thousands of homes without electricity and cut off from rescue workers trying to reach them.

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In Italy, emergency workers continued to attempt to reach towns and villages in the north of the country that have been cut off from transport, electricity and communications by heavy rains and flooding over the past few days.

At least 13 people have died and over 20,000 residents have been moved from their homes. Stefano Bonaccini, the president of the hardest-hit northern region of Emilia-Romagna, said some people are still unaccounted for. 

In places like the town of Lugo, authorities say six months' worth of rain has fallen in just 36 hours. Around two dozen rivers have burst their banks and flooded or washed away everything in their path. 

On Thursday morning, some parts of the city of Faenza were still underwater, with cars submerged and basements flooded by thick mud.

One family standing on their balcony said they didn't have electricity, gas or food.

More than 10,000 people fled their homes, some plucked from rooftops or balconies by rescue helicopters and others ferried out on civil protection dinghies.

Local mayors warned that some remote villages were still completely isolated because landslides had made roads impassable and severed phone lines. Farmers warned of “incalculable” losses due to the floods. 

Officials say the material damage could run into billions of euros. 

The Formula 1 Grand Prix that was to be held this weekend in Imola has been cancelled and thousands of farms in this fertile agricultural region will see their harvests diminished, in some cases losing them completely.

The Superior Institute for Environmental Protection and Research has identified Emilia-Romagna as one of the most at-risk Italian regions for flooding, where both territory and populations face higher risks of “hazard scenarios” than the rest of the country, given its topography and geography – sandwiched between the Apennine mountain chain and the Adriatic Sea.

The region was first hit by intense rain earlier in May, which combined with the exceptional rainfall tested the ability of drought-parched soil to absorb, the institute said, adding that high sea elevations and bora winds against the coast may have contributed to the flooding of rivers and tributaries.

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