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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Weather warnings issued to 15 Italian regions as storms continue

Fifteen of Italy's regions were issued with weather warnings on Monday as storms continue to batter the country. There were reports of avalanches and landslides in the north.

Weather warnings issued to 15 Italian regions as storms continue

Parts of the northern regions of Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna are under an ‘orange’ alert for flood risk, Italy’s Civil Protection Department said in a bulletin released on Sunday evening.

Umbria, Lazio, Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Basilicata, Puglia, Calabria, Sicily and parts of Veneto, Lombardy, Tuscany and Sardinia are under a lower level ‘yellow’ warning.

The warnings relate to “strong to gale force winds” and “possible storm surges along exposed coasts”, the department said.

The Coldiretti farmer’s association said on Monday that the River Po’s level was estimated to have risen 2 metres over the course of the 24 hours in the Turin area.

Two landslides occurred overnight on provincial roads in the popular tourist destination of Cinque Terre in Liguria, while numerous small landslides were reported on the roads surrounding the regional capital of Genoa.

Snow has been recorded below 1,000 metres on the island of Sardinia and on the volcano Vesuvius outside Naples.

An avalanche in the French-bordering northwestern region of Valle d’Aosta overnight has isolated the town of Rhêmes-Notre-Dame, cutting off 80 residents plus additional tourists, according to Italian news agency Ansa.

“We have no reports of damage to people or things,” said Mayor Nella Therisod. “Now the inspection of the technicians is underway to evaluate when we can reopen without endangering anyone.”

A further 6,000 people in the region have reportedly been temporarily isolated due to a snowfall blocking access to the upper Gressoney Valley and the authorities’ decision to cut off road access to Cogne and Valgrisenche as a preventative measure.

The mayor of Gressoney-La-Trinité, where around 2,500-3,000 people are stranded, most of them tourists, said vehicles were working to clear snow from a blocked tunnel and he hoped that the road would be reopened by the afternoon.

The winds and rain that have struck Italy in recent days are expected to continue well into this week, according to weather reports.