Dramatic flooding after two days of heavy rainfall in the northern Italian regions of Emilia-Romagna and Marche has led to deaths and damage along the country’s Adriatic coast.
The coastal area has been hit by heavy storms since Tuesday, and three people have been killed, Italian media reported on Wednesday.
One man was staying on the ground floor of his house during the flooding and drowned.
There were also reports of missing persons.
The provinces of Ravenna, Forlì-Cesena, Rimini and Bologna and especially the cities of Faenza, Cesena and Forlì are the worst affected, according to the Italian fire service.
It said it had deployed 400 firefighters and responded to 600 calls since Tuesday morning.
The firefighters rescued people who were trapped in their homes by the water and drivers stranded in the floods.
In the city of Cesena, where the Saviour River overflowed its banks, emergency services rescued dozens of people trapped on the roofs of their houses.
Pictures and videos taken by the fire brigade showed entire streets under water, mudslides blocking roads and fields resembling seascapes.
According to the Civil Defence, 14 rivers are flooded in Emilia-Romagna alone.
In addition, there were power cuts in several areas and problems with telephone connections.
Italian mountain rescue teams were also on-site to help.
According to Civil Defence Minister Nello Musumeci, about 5,000 people were being evacuated.
“But there could be more. We are ready to intervene,’’ he told Italian radio on Wednesday morning.
He said the government had already approved 10 million euros (10.8 million dollars) for initial expenses and emergencies resulting from the floods.
The emergency services used helicopters to bring people to safety.
A woman in Faenza reported that within 10 minutes the water rose almost to the first floor of her house.
“A neighbour of mine was alone in the house with four small children, she called for help and no one came.
“We stayed with them all night, in our pyjamas. The children were crying. It’s a catastrophe,’’ she was quoted as saying by the ANSA news agency.
The Civil Defence called on people to exercise caution in the coming hours.
People who have not been evacuated were told to take shelter on higher floors of buildings, for example.
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni expressed her “full solidarity” with the people in the affected regions.
“The government is closely following the development of events and is ready to take the necessary relief measures,’’ she wrote on Twitter. (dpa/NAN)