UPDATE: Five dead as more floods feared in northern Italy

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The Local/AFP ([email protected])
UPDATE: Five dead as more floods feared in northern Italy
Firemen and civil protection rescuers evacuate inhabitants with an inflatable boat in Forli on May 17, 2023 after heavy rains have caused major flooding in central Italy. Photo by AFP.

Floods caused by heavy rains in Italy's northern Emilia Romagna region have killed five people, officials said on Wednesday, as local mayors warned residents they were still in danger.


"The number of confirmed victims at the moment has risen to five," after two bodies were recovered by divers in the city of Forli, an official from the local authority told AFP.

"Overall in Forli there were three victims, one in Cesena and one in Cesenatico,", which could be a German man previously reported missing, a local authority official said.

Emilia Romagna had already been hit by heavy rain just a fortnight ago, causing floods that left two dead.

This time, around 50 centimetres (20 inches) of rain fell within 36 hours in Forli, Cesena and Ravenna -- around half the normal annual rainfall, a situation "with few precedents", Civil Protection Minister Nello Musumeci said.

"It is still a very critical situation," he told reporters.

The civil protection agency said 14 rivers had broken their banks across the region between Tuesday and Wednesday, and at least 24 of the region's 330 municipalities were flooded.

The agency urged "maximum caution" on Twitter, as mayors warned people to stay on high ground.

"About 5,000 people have been evacuated, but that number might rise," Civil Protection Minister Nello Musumeci told Radio 24.

50,000 homes were without electricity on Wednesday and some 100,000 mobile users were without service, he added.

Forli mayor Gian Luca Zattini wrote on Facebook: "The city is on its knees, devastated and in pain. It's the end of the world." 


It was fresh misery for an area hit by heavy rain just a fortnight ago, causing floods which left two dead.

"We're scared, this time we're scared," said Simona Matassoni, the owner of the Hotel Savio in Cesena, which has so far escaped flooding.

READ ALSO: Italy's bad weather 'likely to last till end of May'

"I was born here, I've seen lots of full rivers, but never anything like this," she told AFP by telephone, adding that it was still raining.

"At the moment we're crossing our fingers... but another flood is expected, so who knows (what will happen)".


Videos and images released by Italy's fire service show dramatic scenes of entire towns underwater. In parts of the city of Cesena, the water level is shown to be up to roof level after the Savio river burst its banks.

Emilia Romagna's regional governor Stefano Bonaccini said the reality of the flooding had already "exceeded the worst predictions".

"We had issued a weather alert, but the amount of water that has fallen today has already reached and in some cases exceeded that which fell two weeks ago, which was already an unprecedented amount of rain. There are many areas where rivers have flooded or are in danger of doing so tonight," he added.

It's estimated that 130mm of rain fell in 24 hours, and further downpours are anticipated on Wednesday. Italy's Civil Protection Department has issued high-level red risk alerts for most of the Emilia Romagna region.

Sections of the A24 motorway, including the Bologna - Taranto stretch, are closed to all except emergency vehicles. Train services in the area remain heavily disrupted.

In Venice, the order was given to raise the Mose flood barriers to prevent the city from becoming inundated - the first time the measure has been required in May.



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