(CN) — A massive storm caused major flooding in northern parts of Italy, killing at least nine people as floodwaters burst river banks and raged through towns and cities, Italian authorities said Wednesday.
About 20 rivers in the regions of Emilia-Romagna and Marche were swollen beyond capacity, bringing floods to more than 20 towns and the evacuation of more than 13,000 people, Italian emergency officials said. The heavy rains also caused dangerous landslides and cut off roads and rail lines.
The historic center of Faenza, a small city in the province of Ravenna, was badly flooded as rescue teams in boats and rafts ferried inhabitants to safety. Videos showed people shouting for help during the night. Italian media reported that at least 600 people in Faenza had lost their homes.
The storm's intensity and its torrential rains were deemed extremely rare for May in Italy, characteristics that scientists have linked to global warming. Researchers have observed that weather events are becoming more dramatic as the planet warms up.
On Wednesday, the World Meteorological Organization issued a dire warning that the planet will likely see the hottest year on record over the next five years due to the combination of an El Niño weather pattern setting in and global warming.
The storm that clobbered Italy was expected to continue dumping rain on the Balkan region and central parts of Italy.
In the Balkans, the swollen Una river flooded parts of northern Croatia and northwestern Bosnia, where authorities announced a state of emergency. The mayor of the town of Bosanska Krupa in Bosnia said that hundreds of homes had been flooded.
“We have an apocalypse,” Amin Halitovic told regional N1 network, as reported by the Associated Press. “We can no longer count the flooded buildings. It’s never been like this.”
Dozens of landslides were reported in eastern Slovenia, many of which endangered homes and infrastructure. In Croatia, soldiers and rescue teams brought food and other necessities to people in flood-hit areas who have been isolated in their homes. No casualties have been reported so far, the AP reported.
Those killed in Italy included a man buried in a landslide, an elderly man swept away in floodwaters, a couple found inside their flooded home and a woman whose body was found washed up on a beach about 12 miles from a home where her husband drowned.
The amount of rain was immense with as much as a half year's amount of rain (about 20 inches) falling in some places, said Nello Musumeci, the Italian minister for civil protection. Across the flooded area, about 8 inches of rain fell, he said.
The cyclone, which was given the name Minerva, also prompted the first May raising of huge storm barriers recently built to protect Venice from storms in the Adriatic Sea. There were no reports of flooding in the famed city.
Courthouse News reporter Cain Burdeau is based in the European Union.Follow @https://twitter.com/cainburdeau
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