CASTEL BOLONESE, Italy (Reuters) – Floods that have killed at least 13 people in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna have caused billions of euros in losses, particularly badly affecting agriculture, the regional governor said on Thursday.
Heavy rains this week devastated the eastern side of the region, known as Romania, with as many as 300 landslides, 23 rivers flooding, about 400 roads damaged or destroyed, and 42 municipalities inundated.
“We are facing a new earthquake,” Stefano Bonaccini, president of Emilia-Romagna, told reporters, recalling the seismic events that struck the region in 2012 and destroyed thousands of homes.
Noting that since then, “almost everything” has been rebuilt, Bonaccini said, “that experience showed us that it can be done, and we will rebuild everything (again), I’m sure of that.”
The death toll rose to 13 on Thursday when four more bodies were found. In the small town of Rossi, two people, aged 73 and 71, were found dead in their home, local authorities said.
According to the Coldiretti Agricultural Association, more than 5,000 farms have been left underwater in the area, which includes the so-called “Valley of Fruits”, as well as corn and grain fields.
“We have already estimated the damage at about a billion euros (from those floods), so imagine how much it will rise” with the new disaster, Bonaccini said, adding that it was too early to give exact figures.
The floods are the latest in a series of extreme weather events that have gripped Italy in the past year, as once extraordinary disasters have become a regular part of life.
The government promised an additional 20 million euros ($22 million) in emergency aid, in addition to the 10 million euros earmarked for previous floods two weeks ago, which claimed at least two lives.
Emilia-Romagna-based luxury sports car maker Ferrari (RACE.MI) has announced a €1 million donation.
At least 10,000 people were forced from their homes, and many who remained in flooded areas were left without electricity. One of the dead was washed up from her home and washed up on a beach about 20 km away.
With the floods disrupting ground and rail transport across the region, airport workers unions agreed to postpone a strike scheduled for Friday at the government’s request.
In the town of Cesena, the rains have stopped and the waters have largely receded, allowing local residents to regain access to their mud-battered homes, including couple Maurizio Cola and Raffaella Zanni who fled early Wednesday.
“We had to throw everything away, nothing was spared. The water got here. The bed expanded with water,” Cola told Reuters as Zani wept over the loss of one of her most prized possessions: her wedding album. .
All the memories, Cola said.
“It’s over,” Zane added.
Sunday’s Formula 1 Grand Prix in Imola, which is close to several of the hardest-hit areas, has been canceled to ease pressure on emergency services, while Bruce Springsteen’s concert in Ferrara was scheduled to go ahead later on Thursday as planned.
This is the second time this month that Emilia-Romagna has been affected by bad weather. Meteorologists said heavy rains that followed months of drought dried out the land, reducing its ability to absorb water.
($1 = 0.9084 euros)
Additional reporting by Alvise Armellini and Francesca Pescioneri in Rome, reporting by Keith Weir; Edited by Toby Chopra
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