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CLIMATE CRISIS

IN PHOTOS: Devastation after deadly flash floods hit central Italy

Flash flooding triggered by heavy rainfall left several towns in the Marche region devastated on Friday, with at least 10 people killed and four missing. 

IN PHOTOS: Devastation after deadly flash floods hit central Italy
Abandoned cars in front of a flooded house in Pianello di Ostra, Ancona, following flash floods that left at least ten people dead. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

Photos and video shared online by residents showed terrifying scenes as fast-moving rivers of mud and water swept through towns, while images from AFP showed the aftermath of the devastating floods as emergency crews searched for the missing and helped clear up damage on Friday.

UPDATE: Death toll rises to 10 in flash floods in central Italy

People clean a flooded street following floods in Pianello di Ostra, Ancona. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

“It was scary because it happened so fast. It sounded like a waterfall,” said Laura Marinelli, 33, who grabbed her 18-month-old daughter and ran to neighbours upstairs as her ground-floor home near Ostra began to flood.

The waters kept rising and they climbed onto the roof to call for help.

“We’ve lost everything, all the photos, all the letters you can’t replace,” she told AFP, plastic pink toys floating in the submerged garden nearby.

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

Some of the worst damage was seen in the town of Senigallia, while small towns surrounding the tourist town of Urbino were also badly affected.

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

 
Footage of the inland hamlet of Pianello di Ostra showed streets caked with mud and cars piled up after being swept away by flood water.

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.

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

People clean a flooded street in Pianello di Ostra, Ancona. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

“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.

People recovering their belongings in Pianello di Ostra. Photo by Alessandro DI MEO / ANSA / AFP

A flooded field in Sassoferrato, Ancona province, Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP
 

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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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