Catastrophic floods in Italy have forced thousands of people to evacuate

  • About 5,000 people have been evacuated from their homes and at least five have been killed after torrential rains lashed the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, causing catastrophic flooding across at least thirty towns.
  • Responders search for people still trapped by floodwaters, with news footage showing residents airlifted from flooded buildings and rescue teams ferrying people in canoes through flooded streets.
  • Italy’s Minister of Civil Protection, Nello Musimici, said that some regions received an average of 200 millimeters (7.9 inches) of rain in just 36 hours, while others recorded 500 millimeters (19.7 inches) during that period.

In this aerial photo, streets are flooded due to heavy rain across northern Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, on May 18, 2023 in Lugo, Italy.

Antonio Masiello | Getty Images

About 5,000 people have been evacuated from their homes and at least five have been killed after torrential rains lashed the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, causing catastrophic flooding across at least thirty towns.

Responders search for people still trapped by floodwaters, with news footage showing residents airlifted from flooded buildings and rescue teams ferrying people in canoes through flooded streets.

Italy’s Minister of Civil Protection, Nello Musimici, said some regions received an average of 200 millimeters (7.9 inches) of rain in just 36 hours, while others recorded 500 millimeters (19.7 inches) during that period.

“If you consider that this region has an average rainfall of 1,000 mm (39.3 inches) per year, then you realize the impact of these rains in these hours,” Musimesi said during a press briefing.

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The Department of Civil Protection reported that more than 20 rivers had burst their banks across the region, causing more than 280 landslides.

The heavy rains came after a long period of drought in the region. Drought conditions, exacerbated by climate change, reduce the land’s ability to absorb water, and as a result lead to more severe floods.

Although no rain is expected on Thursday, the Emilia-Romagna region has confirmed a red alert across Romagna and the plains of Bologna and Modena and the mountainous hills of central Emilia and Bologna for continued flooding, the department said.

Cars parked in a flooded street in the city of Lugo on May 18, 2023, after heavy rains caused flooding in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna.

Andreas Solaro | AFP | Getty Images

A resident carries a cat carrier on a flooded street in the town of Lugo on May 18, 2023, after heavy rains caused flooding in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna.

Federico Scoppa | AFP | Getty Images

People clean the street after heavy rain caused flooding in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, on May 18, 2023 in Faenza, Italy.

Antonio Masiello | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Rescue workers carry a resident in a canoe across a flooded street in the town of Lugo on May 18, 2023, after heavy rains caused flooding in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, killing nine people.

Andreas Solaro | Afp | Getty Images

A general view shows displaced people at the Balacatani Sports Center after heavy rains caused flooding across northern Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, on May 18, 2023 in Faenza, Italy.

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Antonio Masiello | Getty Images News | Getty Images

A man rides a bicycle on a flooded road after heavy rains caused flooding across northern Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, on May 18, 2023 in Lugo, Italy.

Antonio Masiello | Getty Images News | Getty Images

— The Associated Press contributed reporting

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