The death toll from floods that have devastated Italy’s northern region of Emilia-Romagna has risen to 13, with thousands of people forced from their homes, and farms in an area known for its agriculture destroyed.
Torrential rains devastated the eastern side of the region, known as Romagna, with as many as 300 landslides, 23 overflowing rivers, some 400 roads damaged or destroyed, and 42 flooded municipalities.
“We are facing a new earthquake,” Emilia-Romagna President Stefano Bonaccini told reporters, recalling the seismic events that struck the region in 2012, destroying thousands of homes.
Noting that since then “almost everything” had been rebuilt, Bonaccini said, “That experience showed us that it can be done, and we will rebuild everything (again), I am sure of that.”
The death toll rose to 13 when four more bodies were found on Thursday.
Italian media reported that two farmers in their 70s were among the latest victims of the floods. They say they may have been electrocuted while trying to move a fridge inside a flooded house.
Agricultural lobbyist Coldiretti said that more than 5,000 farms were submerged, with drowned animals and tens of thousands of hectares of vineyards, fruit trees, vegetables and grain under water.
The floods are the latest in a series of extreme weather events that have hit Italy over the past year, as once exceptional disasters become a regular part of life.
“When we have six months of rain in 36 hours, falling where there had already been record rain two weeks ago, there is no territory that can hold out,” Bonaccini said.
Experts have warned such disasters are becoming the norm as a result of human-induced climate change.