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FLOODS

UPDATE: 10 killed in flash floods in central Italy

At least 10 people died and four were missing after flash floods hit the central Italian Marche region overnight, officials said on Friday.

UPDATE: 10 killed in flash floods in central Italy
An ambulance passes a damaged car following floods overnight which left at least ten people dead in the province of Ancona, Marche. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

Emergency services provisionally put the death toll at seven earlier on Friday but this rose mid-morning to 10.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi confirmed the toll, while saying it could change, before heading to the town of Ostra near Ancona, one of the places worst hit.

More than 400 millimetres (16 inches) of rain fell there over a few hours on Thursday evening.

One of the four people reported missing was a child travelling in a car. The mother was rescued but the child was washed away by the floodwaters, AGI said.

Water swept through towns and villages, turning streets into rivers and flooding homes, with the worst damage reported in the Ancona area.

READ ALSO: Italy records ‘five times’ more extreme weather events in ten years

All the victims reported so far are in the province of Ancona, according to local media.

The fire brigade said it had rescued dozens of people overnight “who took refuge on roofs and in trees” during the floods.

Another tweet from the fire brigade read: “the search for missing persons continues among mud and felled trees”.

The streets of the port town of Senigallia were turned into rivers, while aerial footage of the inland hamlet of Pianello di Ostra showed streets caked with mud and cars piled up after being swept away.

The wave of bad weather that hit the area “was not expected at these levels, we had no alert in place. The flooding was sudden,” Marche regional councilor for civil protection Stefano Aguzzi told Ansa.

“There was no time to intervene. There are people who may have been on the street or who had gone out not realising the danger.”

Several areas in Ancona were without electricity or telephone connections. Schools were closed on Friday in the affected areas.

Residents clear up and assess the damage after flash flooding in the Italian province of Ancona, Marche. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP.

Draghi announced five million euros in emergency funds for the area and visited Ostra to offer his condolences in person.

“We will do everything possible… you can count on us,” said the premier, who is set to leave office following elections on September 25th.

READ ALSO: Deadly floods force Italy’s politicians to face climate crisis

Speaking in Rome earlier, Draghi also made an explicit link between the flooding and global warming, saying: “We see it concretely in what happened today how the fight against climate change is fundamental.”

Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said its teams were heading to help.

“Very concerned by the growth of extreme weather events,” he said on Twitter.

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CLIMATE CRISIS

MAP: The parts of Italy most at risk from floods and extreme weather

After flooding devastated parts of central Italy on Friday, data has revealed the areas most at risk as such 'extreme weather events' become more frequent.

MAP: The parts of Italy most at risk from floods and extreme weather

After severe storms and flash floods in the central Marche region last week left 11 dead, with two still missing, environmental organisation Legambiente said climate interventions “can no longer be put off”.

“The climate crisis is no joke,” the group said in a press release published on Saturday. “The flooding that hit Le Marche is yet another alarm bell that the planet is sending us.”

IN PHOTOS: Devastation after deadly flash floods hit central Italy

Italy was hit by a total 64 floods between January and September 2022, according to the latest data from Legambiente’s Città Clima (‘Climate City’) Observatory, with some areas worse affected than others.

As the majority of Italy’s floods occur in the autumn and winter, it’s feared that the total figure for 2022 will be higher than for 2021.

Disasters like the one that hit Marche are difficult to predict, but data from the most recent Città Clima Observatory’s report, published in November of last year, shows which parts of the peninsula have suffered the greatest number of extreme weather events since 2010, giving an idea of the areas most at risk.

Data showed these were mainly large cities such as Rome, Bari, Milan, Genoa and Palermo, and coastal areas, particularly the coasts of Romagna, northern Marche, and eastern Sicily.

The parts of Italy that have experienced the most extreme weather events since 2010. Source: Città Clima

Sicily has been the worst-hit region in recent months, battered by eight floods so far this year and 14 in 2021, the Città Clima interactive map shows. Palermo, Catania and Syracuse have each experienced multiple floods in the past couple of years.

Lazio has also been hard hit, experiencing six flooding events so far in 2022 and ten in 2021, the majority of which occurred in Rome.

READ ALSO

Capital city Rome experienced by far the highest number of extreme weather events: 56 in total, of which 13 involved such heavy rainfall it caused damage to infrastructure and 21 necessitated a partial closure of metro lines.

Bari, the capital of Puglia, was the next worst hit, with a total of 41 events, 20 of which were floods and 18 of which took the form of tornados or whirlwinds that caused damage to the city.

Milan experienced 30 events, of which 20 were a result of river flooding.

The metropolitan area of Naples experienced 31 events, 18 of which occurred in Naples itself, while Genoa was hit by 21 events variously consisting of flooding, torrential rainfall and whirlwinds, and Palermo experienced 15.

A total of 132 extreme weather events were recorded in Italy between January and July 2022 – more than the annual average for the last decade, Legambiente reported in its press release.

A flooded field in Sassoferrato, Ancona province, after severe storms on Friday. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

There have been a total of 510 floods in Italy from 2010 to September 2022, 88 of which happened in 2021, according to the organisation’s statistics.

The association urged the government to take urgent action, arguing that Italy is currently the only major European country that lacks climate adaptation plan, which it says has been on hold since 2018.

“There is no more time to waste,” said Legambiente president Stefano Ciafani.

“If the plan is not approved in a very short timeframe, we risk seeing disastrous social, environmental and economic impacts over the next few years.”

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