Italy floods: Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni pledges £1.8bn aid package for flood-hit areas in northern Italy

Italy has announced a £1.8bn (€2bn) package to help the flood-stricken areas of northern Italy after thousands of people were forced from their homes due to the destruction.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni announced the investment after visiting towns in the Emilia-Romagna region - where the floods claimed 14 lives and severely damaged buildings.

Ms Meloni said the government was considering raising the cost of admission to state museums by €1, and creating a special lottery to raise funds.

This cash would be set aside to pay for repairs to museums, churches, and monuments hit by the deluge.

The assistance package would also include the suspension of tax payments and utility bills over the coming months, said Ms Meloni.

Mortgage payments in areas considered disaster zones will also be suspended.

£503m (€580m) was allocated to temporarily jobless workers because of the destruction of farms and businesses, and money would also go to laptops for students unable to attend school because of the floods.

Ms Meloni said: "In the situation which Italy finds itself, finding two billion euros in a few days isn't an easy thing."

The floods left 36,000 people displaced, ravaged local agriculture, and hit livestock production.

Emilia-Romagna Governor Stefano Bonaccini estimated the cost of road damage at €1bn.

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Beach resorts along the Adriatic Sea were also damaged, bruising the area's tourism as a result.

Despite rescue teams and volunteers trying to pump water out of buildings and clear away slurries of mud from the streets, about 10,000 people still had not been able to return home when Ms Meloni toured the region on Sunday.

While expressing gratitude for the approval of the package, Mr Bonaccini said how the region "has wounds and will have them for a while".

He said: "There are people who lost everything, or who lost almost everything."

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