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‘Like a waterfall’: Storms kill 10 in Italy, spark climate debate

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OSTRA (Italy): Ten people died and four were missing after heavy rain sparked major flooding in central Italy on Thursday, pushing the issue of climate change up the agenda the week before elections.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi confirmed the toll before heading to the town of Ostra, one of the places worst hit when more than 400 millimetres of rain fell over a few hours on Thursday evening.

“It was scary because it happened so fast. It sounded like a waterfall,” said Laura Marinelli, 33, who grabbed her 18-month-old daughter and ran to neighbours upstairs as her ground-floor home near Ostra began to flood.

The waters kept rising and they climbed onto the roof to call for help.

“We’ve lost everything, all the photos, all the letters you can’t replace,” she said, plastic pink toys floating in the submerged garden nearby.

The AGI news agency earlier reported that a child was among the missing, after being washed away from its mother.

Across the area around Ancona, the port capital of the central eastern Marche region, streets were turned into rivers, cars swept into piles by the floodwaters, furniture washed out of homes and thick mud left everywhere.

The fire service said it had 300 people working on the floods, while several areas were without electricity or telephone connections, and schools were closed.

At a pre-planned press conference in Rome, Prime Minister Draghi announced five million euros in emergency funds for the area, and offered his “deep condolences” for the victims.

“At the moment we are counting 10 dead and four disappeared, but unfortunately the situation is evolving,” he said.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2022

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