CESENA: Authorities in Ravenna issued an immediate evacuation order on Thursday (May 18) for three villages threatened by floods after heavy rains left nine people dead across northeastern Italy.
Buses were being sent to help residents leave Villanova di Ravenna, Filetto and Roncalceci after the river Lamone burst its banks.
Nearly two dozen rivers and streams have flooded across the southeast of the Emilia Romagna region following downpours earlier this week, submerging entire neighbourhoods and farmland.
More than 10,000 people have been evacuated from their homes and hundreds of landslides were reported, regional officials said.
The rain stopped mid-afternoon on Wednesday and meteorologists said they expected no significant rainfall on Thursday.
“But when we have six months of rain in 36 hours, falling where there had already been record rain two weeks ago, there is no territory that can hold out,” Stefano Bonaccini, president of the Emilia Romagna region, told La7 television channel late Wednesday.
“We had an estimated two billion euros of damages two weeks ago … the ground no longer absorbs anything,” Bonaccini said.
Two people died in the same region earlier this month after 48 hours of almost continuous rain.
Italy’s armed forces and the coastguard have joined the emergency effort, deploying helicopters to lift desperate residents from their homes and inflatable boats to reach houses surrounded on all sides by water.
As the floods receded in some areas, residents were left cleaning homes and streets thick with mud and filled with debris.
“I’ve lived here since 1979, I’ve seen floods go by, but I’ve never seen anything like that,” Edoardo Amadori, a resident of the city of Cesena, told AFP on Wednesday.
Thousands of farms in the fertile agricultural area were affected, but Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida said the water would have to subside before the government could quantify the damage.
The flooding caused the cancellation of Sunday’s Formula One Emilia Romagna Grand Prix scheduled in Imola, with organisers saying they could not guarantee the safety of fans, teams and staff.