A deadly “tsunami” sweeps through Italian cities | Italy

At least nine people have died and four are missing after dramatic storms caused severe flooding in Italy’s central Marche region, forcing politicians to finally raise the subject of the climate crisis a week before the general election.

Dozens of others are said to have saved themselves by climbing on roofs and trees, in scenes described as akin to an “apocalypse”. Fifty people are being treated in hospital.

Heavy rains began battering the area on Thursday afternoon, with streets turning into rivers and 420mm of rain falling in the worst-hit town, Cantiano, within hours, half the amount that fell on the town throughout along 2021, Corriere della Sera reported.

Mario Tozzi, a geologist, told La Presse that six months of rain fell on the region in three hours.

The regional capital of Ancona and areas around it have also been badly affected.

“It’s a tragedy,” said Manuela Bora, a local councilor from the centre-left Democratic Party. “But there was no warning, which leaves us speechless – we weren’t prepared for such heavy rain. It started yesterday and around 9pm I was getting videos showing the disaster caused by the storms. It’s a little more under control now in the city of Ancona, but in some cities it’s very serious, like an apocalypse.

Carlo Manfredi, the mayor of Castelleone di Suasa, told Rai News on Friday morning that rescuers were still looking for an eight-year-old boy.

“Last night we found his mother alive,” he said. “She was in her car when she saw the water coming and she got out with the child in other arms. But then they got dragged away.

A 17-year-old girl and her mother were reportedly swept away by floodwaters near the town of Senigallia as they tried to flee the area by car.

Francesco Acquaroli, the governor of the Marches, led by the far-right Brothers of Italy, the party on the verge of gaining national power after the September 25 elections, said he had received calls for solidarity from President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Mario Draghi. “The pain of what happened is deep, but the Marche community is strong and will know how to respond,” he said.

Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the Brotherhood of Italy who could become Italian Prime Minister, offered “full solidarity” to those affected.

The climate crisis has been largely absent from the debate ahead of the election, despite scientists in August launching a petition signed by more than 120,000 people urging politicians to make the issue a priority.

Enrico Letta, the leader of the centre-left Democratic Party, announced on Friday that he was suspending his campaign over the tragedy, adding that he was “stunned and speechless”.

“How can you think that the fight against climate change is not the first priority? he said.

Francesco Rocca, the president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, wrote on Twitter that he was “very concerned about the growth of extreme weather events”.

Italy’s longest river, the Po, has suffered this year its worst drought in seven decades. In early July, 11 people were killed when a huge mass of ice from a glacier on the north side of the Marmolada mountain in the Dolomites broke upcausing a deadly avalanche.

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