MILAN (AP) — A day and a half of nonstop rain has caused caused flooding in Italy’s populous Emilia-Romagna region, leaving at least two people dead as riverbeds left dry by drought overflowed their banks.
One person was swept away by floodwaters while riding a bicycle in the Ravenna province, and another died near Imola when a residence was hit by a flood-triggered landslide. Another person was missing.
The intense rainfall comes as Italy faces 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 in Emilia-Romagna.
The severe rainfall raised the level of the Po, by 1.5 meters (nearly 60 inches) in 24 hours and smaller rivers in Emilia-Romagna overflowed their banks, causing damage to property and agriculture. About 450 people were evacuated from their homes.
The Coldiretti agricultural lobby said the violent storms, far from bringing relief from the drought, had worsened the situation, as floodwaters damaged vineyards and olive groves.
Lake Garda, which straddles the neighboring Lombardy and Veneto regions and is used as a basin for agriculture, remains near historic lows at 43% capacity.