The human toll of the floods in Emilia-Romagna has increased. At least 14 people have died in this rich agricultural and tourist region of northern Italy, local authorities said Friday (May 19th).

Rescue workers were still evacuating isolated people from their homes surrounded by the flood and the rain began to fall again after more than 24 hours of calm.

In Ravenna, the authorities decreed "the urgent and immediate evacuation" of several neighborhoods and streets Friday morning and appealed to the population to "move only in case of necessity".

From 13 dead, "the human toll rose to 14" on Friday, a spokesman for the region told AFP, adding that it was a man found drowned in his house in Faenza.


A stable situation

In this commune at the epicentre of the floods, AFP journalists met haggard residents who were trying to clear the muddy pile, taking dirt-covered furniture and appliances out of their homes.

However, the situation seemed to stabilize elsewhere as the water slowly ebbed. Residents and road services were hard at work cleaning houses, businesses and streets overgrown with mud and debris, and roads that had been submerged or washed away were once again open to traffic.

The material damage amounts to billions of euros. A new disaster for the region devastated in 2012 by an earthquake and two weeks ago by the first floods.

"This is a new earthquake," lamented Friday morning on television the president of the region, Stefano Bonaccini.

"Orchard of Italy", Emilia-Romagna owes part of its prosperity to the cultivation of fruit and vegetables, but also to its tourism and the automotive industry built around Ferrari.

"We will rebuild everything. But the agri-food and vegetable sector needs to be compensated 100%. We had drought, frost, and now these dramatic floods," Bonaccini said. "When it comes to tourism, fortunately the [Adriatic, east] coast is less concerned," he added.

Climate change in question

For the Italian Nobel Prize in Physics Giorgio Parisi, these floods are due to "climate change, rising temperatures" and "we have to get used to it".

"We need a real energy transition," he said in an interview with Corriere della Sera.

The post-pandemic recovery plan from which Italy benefits, with 190 billion in European funds committed to the peninsula, "is a good opportunity" to accelerate this transition, according to Stefano Bonaccini.

The government will put on the agenda of the council of ministers, Tuesday, "the suspension of tax and contributory deadlines" for companies affected by bad weather in Emilia-Romagna.

With AFP

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