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Eight dead, thousands evacuated in northern Italy flooding

Flooded bungalows are pictured following heavy rains in Cesena in central Italy. — AFP
Flooded bungalows are pictured following heavy rains in Cesena in central Italy. — AFP

ROME: Dramatic flooding after two days of heavy rainfall across a broad swath of northern Italy has led to multiple deaths and widespread damage.

The bodies of eight people have been recovered so far, said Irene Priolo, the vice president of the hard-hit Emilia-Romagna region, on Wednesday.

Due to the exceptional rains since the beginning of the week, 21 of the 23 rivers in the region have burst their banks and impacted 37municipalities, officials said.

The authorities also registered 250 landslides.

Emilia-Romagna Regional President Stefano Bonaccini spoke of "a large number of evacuees." In the province of Ravenna and around the regional capital Bologna, among other places, several thousand people had to flee their homes and be taken to safety.

In addition to Emilia-Romagna, the neighbouring Marche was also affected.

The Civil Defence reported about 50,000 people without electricity and 100,000 people without a mobile phone network.

Regional rail traffic in Emilia-Romagna has been completely shut down while countless roads have been flooded.

In 36 hours, it rained an average of 200 litres of water per square meter, and even 500 liters in some areas. Civil Protection MinisterNello Musumeci explained that it usually rains 1,000 litres of water in those regions in a whole year.

The Italian fire service says it has deployed 400 firefighters and responded to 600 calls since Tuesday morning.

The firefighters rescued people who were trapped in their homes by the water and drivers stranded in the floods. In the city of Cesena,where the Savio river overflowed its banks, emergency services rescued dozens of people trapped on the roofs of their houses.

The emergency services used helicopters to bring some people to safety. In addition, around 40 mountain rescuers who specialise in water rescues were on duty to help people. The Italian coastguard is also participating in the operation.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni expressed her "full solidarity" with the people in the affected regions. "The government is closely following the development of events and is ready to take the necessary relief measures," she wrote on Twitter. "The government is there - by the side of the affected population and the institutions of the region," she said. — dpa

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