Flooding caused by Storm Ciarán in northern Italy. Image: Italian Fire Service

Storm Ciarán kills six in Italy

By Region Central Italy News

Unprecedented rainfall from Storm Ciarán led to extensive flooding across a vast expanse of Italy’s Tuscany region. Residents were trapped in their homes, hospitals submerged, and cars overturned. The storm claimed the lives of at least six people in Italy, the toll climbing to at least 12 fatalities across Western Europe on Friday.

The Italian Civil Protection authorities reported that 200 millimeters of rain inundated the region within a three-hour span, stretching from the coastal city of Livorno to the inland valley of Mugello. These deluges caused riverbanks to overflow.

Eugenio Giani, the Governor of Tuscany, revealed the storm had taken the lives of five people in the region. The amount of rainfall during this event had not been documented in the past 100 years, as Giani expressed, “There was a wave of water bombs without precedence.” Giani declared a state of emergency, emphasising the gravity of the situation. He described the preceding night as “truly dire,” acknowledging that it had been a long and complex ordeal for the entire regional civil protection system.

Tragically, a bridge collapse near the city of Pistoia resulted in two casualties, while another fatality occurred in the town of Rosignano. The other two victims were elderly individuals residing in the small town of Montemurlo, situated to the northwest of Florence. Among the deceased was an 85-year-old man found drowned on the ground floor of his care home. A woman reported missing in the floods has since been found dead.

Initial concerns focused on Florence

Initial concerns centred on the potential flooding of the historic city of Florence. Nevertheless, Giani reported that the critical water levels had peaked by mid-morning without major incidents.

Giani made a statement on social media, noting, “What occurred in Tuscany last night has a name: climate change.”

Santo Stefano Hospital in Prato was also submerged in water, highlighting the extent of the crisis. Mayor Matteo Biffoni stated, “After a night of devastation, we will roll up our sleeves, clean up, and endeavour to restore our city to normalcy.”

Italian authorities reported that several people were still missing in Tuscany, along with at least one individual in the northeastern Veneto region.

Aid package to help most affected

The Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, announced an initial state aid package of €5 million (£4.3 million) to assist the most severely affected areas. Matteo Salvini, Deputy Prime Minister, disclosed approximately 48,000 people were without electricity.

In various areas of Tuscany, including Seano, Quarrata, and Campi Bisenzio, residents were evacuated from their homes in rubber dinghies, and schools were closed in those locations, as well as in Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Veneto.

Storm Ciarán was driven by a powerful jet stream and followed a series of severe storms that previously battered the north, leading to flooding in Milan and the surrounding regions in Lombardy. Notably, Storm Ciarán was characterised as a “bomb cyclone” by scientists, signifying its explosive intensification resulting in exceptionally strong winds. This storm was unique in that it produced both heavy rainfall and high winds over extensive areas.

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