Five dead and thousands evacuated as Italy hit by devastating floods

Heavy rains have caused major floodings in central Italy (AFP via Getty Images)
Heavy rains have caused major floodings in central Italy (AFP via Getty Images)

At least five people have died and thousands have been evacuated after northern Italy was hit by devastating floods overnight, officials have confirmed.

Authorities also warned that the rainfall is “not over” and urged people to get to higher ground amid fears that rain-swollen rivers would again burst their banks.

The Emilia-Romagna region of the southern European country was hit particularly hard, forcing the evacuation of 24 towns after 14 rivers burst their banks.

“The rainfall is not over, it will continue for several hours,” the deputy head of the Civil Protection Agency, Titti Postiglione, told the SkyTG24 news channel.

“We are facing a very, very complicated situation.”

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Italian Civil Protection Minister Nello Musemeci said five people were confirmed killed by flooding and several others were missing.

Around 5,000 people have been evacuated, while 50,000 have been left without electricity and more than 100,000 without cell phone or landline use.

The flooding has also led to this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix being called off.

Around 5,000 people have been evacuated (REUTERS)
Around 5,000 people have been evacuated (REUTERS)

The potentially worsening situation prompted Enzo Lattuca - the mayor of the badly affected city of Cesena - to warn today that continued downpours in Emilia-Romagna could flood the Savio River and smaller tributaries for a second day.

Speaking on Facebook, he urged residents to move to the upper floors of their homes and avoid low-lying areas and riverbanks.

“The situation could again become critical,” he said. “We cannot in any way lower our guard.”

Mr Musemeci said he hoped those still reported missing would turn out to be false alarms.

However there are fears that the death toll could rise after Ms Postiglione confirmed that rescue operations were particularly difficult given that so many roads and routes were flooded.

Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni, who spoke while travelling home from the G-7 meeting in Japan, said the government was monitoring the situation and was prepared to approve emergency aid.

Pedestrians walk in a flooded street of the San Rocco district (AFP via Getty Images)
Pedestrians walk in a flooded street of the San Rocco district (AFP via Getty Images)

The days of heavy rain across a broad swath of northern Italy and the Balkans also caused “apocalyptic” floods, landslides and evacuations in Croatia, Bosnia and Slovenia.

In the Balkans, the swollen Una River flooded parts of northern Croatia and north-western Bosnia, where authorities announced a state of emergency.

The mayor of the Bosnian town of Bosanska Krupa said hundreds of homes had been flooded.

“We have an apocalypse,” Amin Halitovic told the regional N1 network.

“We can no longer count the flooded buildings. It’s never been like this.”

Dozens of landslides were reported in eastern Slovenia. In Croatia, hundreds of soldiers and rescue teams continued bringing food and other necessities to people in flood-hit areas.