Rome: Officials in northern Italy warned residents to get to higher ground Wednesday amid fears that rain-swollen rivers would again burst their banks, after flooding killed at least five people, forced the evacuation of some 5,000 and suspended some train services.
Days of heavy rain stretched across a broad swath of northern Italy and the Balkans, where “apocalyptic” floods, landslides and evacuations were also reported in Croatia, Bosnia and Slovenia.
Italian Civil Protection Minister Nello Musemeci said five people were confirmed killed by flooding that struck Emilia-Romagna particularly hard, forcing the evacuation of 24 towns. At a briefing, Musemeci said he hoped those still reported missing would turn out to be false alarms.
The mayor of the city of Cesena, Enzo Lattuca, posted a video early on Wednesday on Facebook to warn that continued downpours in the Emilia-Romagna region could flood the Savio river and smaller tributaries for a second day.
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He urged residents to move to upper floors of their homes and avoid low-lying areas and riverbanks. He announced the closure to traffic of some bridges and streets after rivers of mud sloshed through town and into basements and storefronts.
“The situation could again become critical,” he said. “We cannot in any way lower our guard.” Museumeci said some 5,000 people had been evacuated, 50,000 were without electricity, and more than 100,000 without cell phone or landline use.
The deputy chief of the Civil Protection agency, Titti Postiglione, said rescue operations for those needing emergency evacuations were particularly difficult given so many roads and routes were flooded and phone service interrupted.
Speaking on Sky TG24, she noted that the affected flood zone covered a broad swath of four provinces which, until the heavy rains, had been parched by a prolonged drought.
Some regional train routes remained suspended Wednesday around Bologna and Ravenna, with severe delays elsewhere, the Italian state railway said.
Premier Giorgia Meloni, who was travelling home from the G-7 meeting in Japan, said the government was monitoring the situation and was prepared to approve emergency aid.
In the Balkans, the swollen Una river flooded parts of northern Croatia and northwestern Bosnia, where authorities announced a state of emergency.
The mayor of the town of Bosanska Krupa in Bosnia said hundreds of homes had been flooded.
“We have an apocalypse,” Amin Halitovic told 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, many of which endangered homes and infrastructure.
In Croatia, hundreds of soldiers and rescue teams continued bringing food and other necessities to people in flood-hit areas who have been isolated in their homes. No casualties have been reported so far.