Catastrophic flooding in Italy leaves 9 dead, forces thousands to evacuate


A major disaster is underway in northern Italy, where massive flooding is blamed for at least nine deaths. Thousands of people have been forced out of their homes in the drought-affected region north of Florence. 

Many have been rescued, including a pregnant woman, an elderly man and a small child seen clutching for dear life amid rising floodwaters. 

“I’ve lived here since 1979,” said Cesena resident Edoardo Amadori. “I’ve seen floods go by, but I’ve never seen anything like this.”    

Powerful rapids swelling from rivers have washed away bridges, submerged cars and left thousands homeless. Firefighters have waded through water with flashlights, looking for people to rescue.

But many are still missing after rainstorms stretched across a swath of northern Italy and the Balkans for days. “Apocalyptic” floods, as well as landslides and evacuations, were also reported in Bosnia, Slovenia and Croatia.

Experts blame climate change. Last summer, the same region experienced its worst drought in 70 years. The Po River Valley, which produces 40% of the country’s food, was in a government state of emergency. 

Now, 10 months later, that same arid soil can hardly absorb the torrential rainfall amounting to roughly 20 inches in some parts – equal to six months of rainfall, in only 36 hours. 

Formula One was forced to cancel this weekend’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix to not overtax emergency crews, which are already stretched thin.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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