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Death toll from Italy storms rises to 11

The storms hit on Thursday evening, with more than 400 millimetres of rain falling in some places in just a few hours.

Image: AP/PA Images

THE DEATH TOLL from storms that drenched Italy and sparked major flooding in the centre of the country has risen to 11, with two people still missing, authorities have said.

The storms hit on Thursday evening, with more than 400 millimetres of rain falling in some places in just a few hours.

“Searches are ongoing for the two missing,” said a statement from police in Ancona. Local press reports said the two were an eight-year-old child and a 56-year-old woman.

Across the area around Ancona, the port capital of the central eastern Marche region, streets were turned into rivers, cars swept into piles by the floodwaters, furniture washed out of homes and thick mud left everywhere.

More rain was expected in the area on Saturday, with authorities urging people to stay at home.

“Leave the ground floors of your homes and take shelter in the upper floors,” the mayor of Senigallia, Massimo Olivetti, said.

The deadly storms hit just days before the general elections in the country.

Italy has been hit by severe drought this year, followed by violent end-of-summer storms, and many have drawn the link with climate change – a subject which had taken a back seat during the election campaign.

This summer’s drought, the worst in 70 years, drained the Po River, Italy’s largest water reservoir.

The baking heat has in recent weeks been followed by storms, the water flooding land rendered hard as concrete.

According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global warming has caused an increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events.

The world has already warmed by about 1 degree Celsius since pre-industrial times due to human activity, and the IPCC has warned that global heating is virtually certain to pass 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, probably within a decade.

The impacts of climate change are already causing severe and widespread disruption around the world and the panel has said drastic action is needed to avoid mounting loss of life, biodiversity and infrastructure.

© AFP 2022

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