Floods displace more than 36,000 residents in northeastern Italy | News

Deadly floods have caused more than 305 landslides and damaged or closed more than 500 roads in the Emilia-Romagna region.

More than 36,000 people have been forced from their homes by deadly floods in northeastern Italy, regional officials said, as rising waters swallowed more homes and landslides isolated small villages.

This week, 14 people were killed after the streets of cities and towns in the Emilia-Romagna region turned into rivers.

The fire service said a helicopter trying to restore power crashed Saturday near Lugo, injuring one of the four people on board.

Heavy flooding caused more than 305 landslides and damaged or closed more than 500 roads in the region.

Video footage from the affected towns showed submerged cars and homes flooded, while some residents were riding their bikes or kayaking in the watery streets.

Bologna Mayor Matteo Libor said on Saturday that repairing roads and infrastructure would take “months, and in some places possibly years”.

Al-Jazeera correspondent Hoda Abdel-Hamid said, in a report from the city of Faenza in the Emilia-Romagna region, that the destruction was evident “everywhere.”

“The city is covered in mud and people are beginning to understand how far it has gone – the present and the past,” she said.

Faenza, known for its ceramics, was detecting damage “minute by minute”. “People are doing their best to save the art,” Abdul Hamid said.

The local library reported over 10,000 books lost due to the floods.

People rescued in Faenza, Italy [Luca Bruno/AP]

In the town of Lugo, some evacuated flood victims and were housed in a national museum, where volunteers provided them with beds to sleep on.

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“I am very happy here … but I feel bad,” Gabriela Valenti, 74, told Reuters. “Maybe I am among the luckiest… I still have a home but there are people who have lost everything. They don’t know what to do to make us feel good.”

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 same region of Emilia-Romagna was hit hard by the weather at the beginning of May, with at least two people dying during the storms.

Months of drought followed heavy rains, which dried up the land, reducing its ability to absorb water, meteorologists said.

Italy’s Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, said she would leave the G7 summit in Hiroshima a day before she was scheduled to lead the flood response.

“I have decided to return to Italy. Honestly, I cannot stay away from Italy at such a difficult time. After two or more days, my conscience tells me to return,” she said in a press briefing, adding that she had informed the other G7 leaders.

Earlier today, Meloni thanked the G7 leaders and everyone from other countries who expressed their solidarity with Italy and those affected by the floods.

“Your closeness is a tangible sign of our holding together in difficult times,” she said in a tweet.

The Italian insurer said Saturday that Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Unipol Grupo companies have agreed to join forces to help people affected by floods in northern Italy get online, facilitating rescue operations.

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Under the agreement, Unipol will acquire SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet terminals and will provide them to rescue workers, hospitals and the public. SpaceX is positioning its satellites to prioritize the Emilia-Romagna region and to provide improved coverage.

“SpaceX, Starlink and Tesla are pleased to be helpful in any way to help Italy and the people affected by the floods,” Musk said in a statement.

Musk founded SpaceX, which sent more than 5,000 Starlink satellite internet dishes to Ukraine in the days after Russia’s all-out invasion.

The region will recover from the devastating floods by implementing the lessons learned from the 2012 earthquake, Stefano Bonaccini, regional president of Emilia-Romagna, said.

“If there is a lesson we learned from the earthquake, it is that any emergency calls for quick and rapid rebuilding,” Bonaccini said.

“Nothing will stop,” the governor told reporters, referring to business, tourism and other activities in the affluent northern region.

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