9 dead as floods devastate Italy’s Emilia Romagna, Imola Grand Prix cancelled

Photo courtesy of Bangkok Post

Heavy rainfall in Emilia Romagna, Italy‘s northern region has led to the deaths of at least nine people, with rivers flooding and submerging neighbourhoods and farmland. The flooding has resulted in the cancellation of the Imola Grand Prix scheduled for this weekend.

Continual downpours over two days caused almost two dozen rivers to burst their banks, displacing thousands of residents and submerging vast areas of land. The flooding affected 41 municipalities, with landslides reported in numerous others.

Cesena resident Davide Maeldolla said…

The helicopters circled all night to rescue people.”

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The region’s mayor, Gian Luca Zattini, described the city of Forli as…

On its knees, devastated and in pain.”

Regional authorities confirmed nine casualties, primarily in the areas surrounding Forli and Cesena.

Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida stated that thousands of farms in the agricultural region were impacted, but the extent of the damage could only be assessed once the water subsided.

Emergency services, the armed forces, and over 1,000 volunteers participated in the massive rescue effort, with divers recovering two bodies in Forli yesterday morning.

Television footage depicted emergency workers carrying residents across flooded streets or transporting them in inflatable boats. Cars were submerged, and streets were filled with thick mud and debris where the water had receded.

Emilia Romagna, one of Italy’s wealthiest regions, had already experienced heavy rain and flooding two weeks prior, resulting in two fatalities. This time, around 50 centimetres of rain fell within 36 hours in Forli, Cesena, and Ravenna – nearly half the typical annual rainfall. Civil Protection Minister Nello Musumeci described the situation as having “few precedents.”

Musumeci announced that US$22 million in emergency funds would be allocated to the area, in addition to the US$10 million provided after the previous flooding.

The safety of fans, teams, and staff could not be guaranteed, leading to the cancellation of Sunday’s Formula One Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola.

Rescue workers worked tirelessly to save children, the elderly, and the disabled from the rising waters. Authorities reported that over 10,000 people had been evacuated, with around 50,000 left without electricity.

The heavy rains follow a drought that affected much of northern Italy last winter and a record lack of rain last summer. Air Force meteorologist Paolo Capizzi warned that “these extreme rainfalls arrive” frequently in recent years and could be a consequence of ongoing climate change.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, attending the G7 summit in Japan, expressed her support for those affected and stated that the government was prepared to provide the necessary aid. The rain over the flooded area is expected to subside tomorrow.

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With a Bachelor's Degree in English, Jenn has plenty of experience writing and editing on different topics. After spending many years teaching English in Thailand, Jenn has come to love writing about Thai culture and the experience of being an ex-pat in Thailand. During long holidays, she travels to North of Thailand just to have Khao Soi!

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