Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni visits the floods after 36,000 people were forced from their homes | world news

Italy’s prime minister cut short his trip to Japan for the G7 summit to visit the flooded regions of northern Italy, where thousands of people have been uprooted from their homes.

Giorgia Meloni visited towns in the Emilia-Romagna region, where severe flooding killed 14 people and caused damage estimated at billions of euros, after stopping on the way back from the summit in Asia.

About 36,000 people have been evacuated amid floods that have caused rivers of mud to flow through cities in an extreme event made worse by climate change, scientists have said.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said the meetings with those affected by the floods had been emotional. Photo: AP

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At least 13 people were killed and more than 10,000

She said meeting those affected by the flood had been a moving experience.

“It was a tragedy, but we can still recover strongly from the crises,” Meloni told reporters in the city of Ravenna, one of the hardest-hit areas.

The Prime Minister pledged to support the recovery, saying the damage had been huge but it was difficult to quantify the financial impact.

The Italian government will hold a council of ministers on Tuesday to decide on the measures to be taken to respond to the emergency.

“We will find the necessary resources,” she added, saying the country might need to appeal to the European Union Solidarity Fund for natural disasters.

The other leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) summit in the Japanese city of Hiroshima had also proposed various forms of
support, she added.

The Po River floods its banks in Turin, Italy, Sunday, May 21, 2023. Rescue teams are working to reach towns and villages in northern Italy that have been cut off from highways, electricity and service mobile telephony following heavy rains and floods.  Farmers are warning of...untold losses...and authorities have begun to draw up plans for cleanup and reconstruction.  Photo: AP
The Po floods its banks in Turin, Italy, Sunday, May 21, 2023
On Sunday May 21, 2023, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni inspected the damage caused to homes in the Emilia-Romagna region.  Photo: AP
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni inspected damage to homes in the Emilia-Romagna region on Sunday. Photo: AP

Meloni left the Hiroshima summit a day earlier than planned, saying his conscience would not allow him to stay
away longer.

By the time it arrived on Sunday, the rain had stopped and rescue teams and volunteers had intervened, trying to pump water from buildings and clear mud from the streets before it was baked in by the sun.

Around 10,000 people have still not been able to return home.

Agriculture has suffered in a region that grows fruits like peaches, kiwis and apricots, as well as corn and grains.

The ground in Emilia-Romagna had been parched by drought before the rains fell, making it virtually impermeable, so the rain drained off and the rivers overflowed during the night.

As human activity like driving and flying changes the climate, more rain falls, but concentrated on fewer days in less useful and more dangerous downpours.

Antonello Pasini, a climatologist at Italy’s National Research Council, said a trend had set in.

“An increase in overall precipitation per year, for example, but a decrease in the number of rainy days and an increase in the intensity of rain in those few days when it rains,” said this week.

Watch The Climate Show with Tom Heap on Saturday and Sunday at 3pm and 7.30pm on Sky News, on the Sky News website and app, as well as on YouTube and Twitter.

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