Italy floods: Over 36,000 people displaced as Meloni leaves G7 summit early

More than 36,000 people have now been forced from their homes by deadly floods in northeast Italy, regional officials said on Saturday, as rising waters swallowed more houses and fresh landslides isolated hamlets

Italy floods: Over 36,000 people displaced as Meloni leaves G7 summit early
Photo: Andreas SOLARO/AFP.

Violent downpours earlier this week killed 14 people, transforming streets in the cities and towns of the Emilia Romagna region into rivers.

And as more rain fell, regional authorities extended the red weather alert to Sunday.

READ ALSO: Italy’s flood death toll rises to 14 as government urged to act on climate

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Saturday she was leaving the G7 summit in Japan early to deal with the emergency.

“Frankly I cannot remain so far from Italy in such a complex moment,” she told reporters, thanking the 5,000 people — from rescue workers to volunteers — mobilised to help those hit by the floods.

She also thanked her fellow G7 leaders for their offers of aid.

Meloni was expected to visit some of the worst-hit areas on Sunday.

The authorities in Ravenna on Saturday ordered the immediate evacuation of more at-risk hamlets.

A helicopter involved in attempts to restore electricity crashed Saturday near Lugo, injuring one of the four people on board, the fire service said.

READ ALSO: Why has flooding in northern Italy been so devastating?

Six months’ worth of rain fell in 36 hours in the Emilia-Romagna region, with the floods described as the worst the country has seen in a century.

The floods have caused over 305 landslides and damaged or closed over 500 roads in the region.

“The water began to rise at 2pm (on Friday), coming from across the fields,” after nearby canals were swollen by flooded rivers, electrician Mauro Lodola told AFP.

“It’s difficult. I want it to be over quickly, to be able to go forwards… to pick ourselves up,” the 54-year-old said, standing thigh-high in the dirty water surrounding his house.

Lodola choked up as he showed his ruined house, the water lapping around the fridge in the kitchen and against the mattress on his bed, which was piled high with salvaged furniture.

Outside, a white door floated past a shed, where chickens who had been moved to safety clucked nervously.

Bologna’s mayor Matteo Lepore said Saturday it would take “months, and in some places maybe years” for roads and infrastructure to be repaired.

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One dead after severe storm and flooding hits southern Italy

A man was killed after torrential rain caused flash flooding in the southern Italian province of Avellino on Thursday, local media reported.

One dead after severe storm and flooding hits southern Italy

The 45-year-old man was reportedly hit and killed by his own car, which was parked on a slope, as he tried to salvage it from flood waters in a rural area in the municipality of Contrada.

The man was thought to have been working in a chestnut orchard when flash floods hit, causing major damage to homes and farmland in the area, reported news agency Ansa.

“It is a tragedy in an area that is not new to these phenomena and which is characterised by its vulnerability,” the mayor of Contrada, Pasquale De Santis, told Ansa.

“There was only twenty minutes of rain preceded by a hailstorm, but of exceptional strength,” he said.

The area has been repeatedly hit by severe flooding during storms and families in the nearby village of Celzi had to be rescued using rubber dinghies in the last major floods in November 2023.

Flooding hit the southern province at the same time as European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen was visiting Emilia Romagna in the north-east of Italy on Thursday after last week’s severe flooding killed 14 people there.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said at a press conference on Thursday that Italy would apply for financial support from an EU fund following the disaster in Emilia Romagna once the damage to the area has been fully assessed.
Scientists say extreme weather events like the heatwaves, severe storms, flooding and droughts which now regularly ravage Italy are becoming more frequent and more intense due to human-caused climate change.