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Exceptional levels of rainfall resulted in widespread flooding in the Tuscany region of Italy due to the arrival of Storm Ciaran, leaving residents stranded in their houses and causing hospitals to become submerged and cars to be flipped over.
On Friday, the storm’s death toll in western Europe rose to 12 with the addition of five fatalities.
The Italian Civil Protection authorities reported that within a span of three hours, approximately 200 millimetres (equivalent to nearly 8 inches) of rainfall occurred in various areas from Livorno on the coast to Mugello in the inland valley, resulting in the overflow of riverbanks. Footage reveals numerous vehicles being swept away on a flooded road.
The Governor of Tuscany, Eugenio Giani, reported that five individuals perished in the storm. The amount of rainfall during the storm was unprecedented in the past 100 years. Mr. Giani stated, “There was an unprecedented deluge of water bombs,” during an interview with Italian news channel Sky TG24.
The government of Italy has announced a state of emergency and has set aside an initial €5m (£4.3m) to assist the areas that have been most severely affected.
During a press conference, Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini reported that approximately 48,000 individuals in the area were without electricity.
Climate experts state that the climate crisis caused by human activity has caused an increase in precipitation levels during storms such as Ciaran, which frequently leads to more significant destruction.
Nello Musumeci, the minister for civil protection in the government, stated that the current conditions are noticeably different from those 20 years ago. He mentioned that there has been a shift towards more tropical weather systems in Italy.
According to Italian news agency ANSA, the casualties in Tuscany consisted of an 85-year-old man who was discovered in his flooded home near Prato, north of Florence, and an 84-year-old woman who passed away while attempting to remove water from her home in the same region.
Two missing individuals, a couple and a single person from Vinci and Livorno province, respectively, were also among the victims.
One individual was unaccounted for on Friday in Tuscany, while an off-duty firefighter was also reported missing in the Veneto mountains near Venice. Other areas were on heightened alert and officials cautioned that the storm was moving towards southern Italy.
The storm named Ciaran caused destruction and resulted in the deaths of at least seven individuals as it passed through Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany on Thursday. It caused severe damage to houses, disrupted travel, and left many without electricity.
During the passing of the storm, it caused flooding in four hospitals, such as those in Pisa and Mugello. This resulted in disruptions of train lines and highways, as well as the closure of schools throughout Tuscany. Many individuals, including 150 people who were stuck in Prato due to a suspended train line on Thursday night, were unable to return to their homes. Additionally, on Friday, approximately 40,000 individuals were without power.
The mayor of Prato was surprised by the intensity of the flood that destroyed the city during the night. As of early Friday, citizens were actively working to repair the destruction.
Mayor Matteo Biffoni shared on social media that despite the pain and tears caused by a blow to the stomach, the community is determined to roll up their sleeves and restore the city to its usual state after a night of destruction.
According to Florence’s Mayor Dario Nardella in an interview with Sky TG24, the Arno River, situated in the heart of the city, has reached the initial level of alert. The highest levels are predicted to occur around midday. Both the mayor and the governor do not anticipate the river to overflow its banks.
Mr. Nardella expressed concern about the psychological impact of tomorrow’s 1966 flood anniversary. This tragic event resulted in the loss of 101 lives and caused extensive damage to countless priceless works of art and literature.
On Thursday evening, strong winds and heavy rainfall in the southern province of Carinthia in Austria caused landslides, road closures, and power outages. According to the Austria Press Agency, approximately 1,600 households were left without electricity on Friday morning.
The storm subsided in northern France and along the Atlantic coast on Friday, however, certain areas continued to experience heavy rainfall as emergency crews worked to remove debris from the previous day. Meanwhile, Corsica in the Mediterranean experienced abnormally strong winds on Friday, reaching speeds of up to 87mph (140kph), while regions in the Pyrenees in the southwest were issued flood warnings.
Over 500,000 households in France have been without power for two days, mostly in the western region of Brittany. Train services have been stopped in multiple locations and numerous roads are still inaccessible.
On Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron visited regions of Brittany affected by a storm, while Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne journeyed to heavily impacted areas in Normandy.