At least five people have died and thousands have been evacuated from popular holiday regions across northern Italy and Croatia today as ‘apocalyptic’ floods triggered by torrential rain tore through dozens of towns.
Desperate families – including young children and the elderly – were forced to climb on to the roofs of their homes in the hardest-hit Italian region of Emilia-Romagna as they waited anxiously for rescuers to reach them on helicopters.
The deadly floods in the popular tourist hotspot have left this weekend’s Italian Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in doubt, with F1 staff told to stay away from the track amid torrential rain. If the conditions do not improve, and it’s not likely to with several more days of heavy rain expected in northern Italy, it is understood the F1 could be cancelled.
In the city of Cesena, in the Emilia-Romagna region, locals were forced to swim through the submerged streets, past sunken cars and floating furniture, to reach higher ground.
A video shows one desperate mother clinging to her young daughter while frantically waving for help as the water rose up to her chest outside her home. Two men were seen racing to swim to reach the pair, with one placing the young girl above his head to stop her getting swept away in the fast-moving waters.
The girl was passed into the arms of other rescuers standing on a bank, while other neighbours helped her mother to safety after the Savio river burst its banks.
In Bosnia and Croatia, residents have watched in horror as their homes were quickly submerged by the floods. ‘We have an apocalypse,’ Amin Halitovic, the mayor of the Bosnian town of Bosanska Krupa said. ‘We can no longer count the flooded buildings. It’s never been like this.’
A video shows one desperate mother clinging to her young daughter while frantically waving for help as the water rose up to her chest outside her home
Two men were seen racing to swim to reach the pair, with one placing the young girl above his head (centre) to stop her getting swept away in the fast-moving waters
In the city of Cesena, in the hardest-hit northern Emilia-Romagna region, locals were forced to swim through the submerged streets, past sunken cars and floating furniture, to reach higher ground
The flooding has wreaked havoc in Cesena, with thousands evacuated from their submerged homes on Wednesday
The devastating floods have seen four people killed so far and 5,000 evacuated from 24 towns across the Emilia-Romagna region as the water ripped through their homes and turned streets into rivers.
A 70-year-old man died in his flooded home in the countryside outside Cesena. His wife was rescued.
Another man was found dead in his home in Forli after the Montone river burst its banks. The town’s mayor said the floods are the ‘worst situation’ the town has ever experienced.
Four people are missing from the region as rescuers search for those trapped in their homes after rivers swollen by days of downpours wreaked havoc across the north.
Officials are urging those living in Emilia-Romagna to get to higher ground amid fears that more rivers would burst their banks for the second time this afternoon.
The mayor of the city of Cesena, Enzo Lattuca, posted a video early 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. He urged residents to move to upper floors of their homes and avoid low-lying areas and riverbanks.
Elsewhere in Italy, firefighters rescued a family with a four-month-old baby and a disabled man in the northern province of Pesaro and Urbino.
Some families were rescued from their rooftops and taken to safety, including a couple and their two young daughters.
The nearly 100,000 residents of Cesena were told to stay away from the raging waters and avoid ground floors if they live near the river.
‘Use prudence, don’t be curious, so disaster doesn’t turn into tragedy,’ Cesena mayor Enzo Lattuca said on television.
Some 900 people in flooded areas of northern Italy were evacuated by late last night, with some taking shelter in gyms or schools.
A young girl was passed into the arms of rescuers stand on higher ground, while neighbours helped her mother to safety after the Savio river burst its banks
The region of Emilia-Romagna has been the hardest-hit, with thousands of people evacuated from their homes
A home is nearly completely submerged in the flooded water in Ponte delle Grazie, near Ravenna, Italy, on Wednesday
Rescuers take people to safety in Forli after floods hit Italy’s northern Emilia-Romagna region
At least four people have died and thousands have been evacuated from their homes across northern Italy today as devastating floods triggered by torrential rain tore through dozens of towns. Pictured: Cars and homes were submerged in water in Cesena after the Savio river burst its banks on Wednesday
Cars are submerged in water in Cesena after the Savio river burst its banks on Wednesday
In the city of Cesena, in the hardest-hit northern Emilia-Romagna region, streets have been turned into rivers
In the tourist town of Ravenna in north-east Italy, authorities urged residents to move to upper storeys of buildings to ride out the storm. One person died there after their car became submerged in the water.
In Riccione, a beach town on the Adriatic Sea, the mayor warned people to stay home as some took to rubber dinghies to navigate submerged streets.
In the area between Ancona, a major Adriatic port, and Pesaro and Urbino, two towns popular with tourists, firefighters attended to 80 incidents related to the flooding including fallen trees, mudslides and trapped motorists.
Meteorologists have said Italy can expect several more days of heavy rain, pummelling the north which had for weeks been suffering a shortfall of rain.
Train travel was halted on the Bologna-Ancona and the Ravenna-Faenza routes, Italian media reported.
In the Balkans, the Una river burst its banks and submerged parts of northern Croatia and northwestern Bosia, 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.’
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.
CROATIA: This aerial photo taken on Tuesday hows a flooded area in Obrovac, Croatia
CROATIA: A member of civil defence wades through flooding waters in Obrovac, Croatia, on Tuesday after the river burst its banks
CROATIA: Locals placed sand bags to try to protect their homes from the flooding in Obrovac, Croatia
Rescuers wade through floodwaters during rescue operations in Forli after floods hit Italy’s northern Emilia-Romagna region in the early hours of Wednesday morning
Firefighters and rescuers are seen next to boats during rescue operations in Faenza
Elsewhere in the north of Italy, authorities in Venice are preparing to activate a mobile barrier in the lagoon the hopes of sparing the city from the rare May high-tide flooding.
The barrier system, known by its acronym Moses, and recalling the Biblical account of the Red Sea parting, will be lifted tonight for the first time in May.
It is nearly 20 years since construction began on the project, which is still not completed.
This month, a day and a half of non-stop rain caused flooding in the Emilia-Romagna region, leaving at least two people dead as riverbeds left dry by drought overflowed.
The rainfall came as Italy had been bracing for a second year of drought, which has depleted its largest river, the Po. The river supports agriculture in the vast Po River Valley before emptying into the Adriatic Sea east of Bologna.
While north-east Italy was hardest hit by the downpours, flooding also caused damage in the south.
On the island of Sicily, rescuers responded to flooding, fallen trees and other problems in the countryside between Palermo and Trapani. By yesterday morning, the weather there was improving, firefighters said.