The storm “Kieran” brought Italy to its knees, Italian media noted, after according to the latest data, the element took the lives of seven people in the Italian region of Tuscany and one person in the Veneto region, BTA reported.
Victims of the storm, although fewer, were also in other European countries, including Portugal, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany. Of the countries in Western and Central Europe, however, Italy stood out with the highest death toll.
Storm Kieran is the third deadliest natural disaster to hit Italy in less than a year. At the end of November last year, 12 people died in landslides on the island of Ischia caused by heavy rains. Among the victims was a Bulgarian woman.
In May this year, 17 people died in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna after torrential rains caused catastrophic flooding. In the province of Ravenna, eight people over the age of 60 died – i.e. the victims were elderly, vulnerable and immobile people. Two victims were in the province of Bologna, and seven people died in the province of Forli-Cesena. The damage from the floods was enormous, especially for the agricultural sector. The authorities allocated emergency funding for the affected areas, which were also visited by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who promised European funds for Italy.
The victims of Storm Kieran, which hit Italy on the evening of November 2, were also mostly elderly people from Tuscany. Deaths occurred in the municipalities of Campi Bizenzio, Montemurlo, Rosignano, Prato, Vinci. Among the victims was a married couple who were traveling by car in Vinci and were swept away by a flood of water and mud. The two bodies were found 3 km from where the car the couple was traveling in was found.
The bad weather affected not only the regions of Tuscany and Veneto, but also the regions of Lombardy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Umbria, Abruzzo, Sardinia, Liguria, Calabria, Puglia, Basilicata and Trento. In Tuscany, which suffered badly, many rivers burst their banks. Thousands of people were left without electricity, over 1,200 people were evacuated as a precaution, and access to 14,000 people in various places in the district was only possible by boat, the Italian news agency ANSA and the Tiscali Notici news channel summarize.
On Friday, the Italian government declared a state of emergency for Tuscany and that it is providing an initial aid of 5 million euros to deal with the consequences of the disaster. Ellie Schlein, leader of the center-left opposition Democratic Party, told Radio 24 that “there are some people in the government who continue to deny climate change, block renewable energies and still do not invest enough in disaster prevention,” ANSA reported. This attack did not go down well with supporters of Italy’s ruling coalition.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said in a post on her Facebook account: “The opposition has every right to criticize the work of the executive, but taking advantage of disasters and tragedies to launch instrumentalized and unfounded political attacks is a behavior that I find it reckless”. Meloni then also posted a photo of a firefighter rescuing a newborn from a flood-affected area in Tuscany and commented that this shot is worth more than a thousand words on the subject. The Prime Minister expressed gratitude and appreciation to the firefighter and to all those involved in the rescue operations in Tuscany.
There was also talk of climate change in Italy in May after the floods in Emilia-Romagna. At the time, experts said that Italy’s climate was becoming Africanized, that periods of rainfall may not have increased overall, but that there had been an increase in the number of intense rains and storms, which did not at all ease the increasingly severe cases of prolonged drought in the country. After the landslide on the island of Capri, it was rumored that fires and indiscriminate and illegal construction there had made the terrain unstable, contributing to the tragedy there.
Italian media recall that on August 24, the Public Consortium for the Monitoring of the Environment in Tuscany, created together with the National Research Council, warned that since 1955 the climate in Tuscany has changed and there is an increase in temperatures on average of 1, 6 degrees Celsius in the district. The speed with which this increase in temperatures is occurring is remarkable. At the global level, average temperatures have risen by 1.1 degrees Celsius over 140 years, while in Tuscany the rise has been greater and in a shorter time, GreenReport notes. Warming in this area is more pronounced in the summer, with 2.9 degrees Celsius compared to temperatures in the 1950s. In fall and spring, the rise is 1.5 degrees Celsius over temperatures in the 1950s. The increase in temperatures is less in plain areas (plus 0.8 degrees Celsius) compared to mountainous areas (plus 1.8 degrees Celsius).
Over the past 20 years, heat waves have tripled in Tuscany compared to previous decades, and extremely warm days outside the summer season have doubled since 1955 in the same area, Greenreport also found, citing expert data published on August 24. On the other hand, precipitation has decreased by an average of 8 percent since 1955, with the largest decrease in summer (by 26 percent) and the least in autumn (by 3 percent), the publication also states.
Increasing temperatures are associated with the frequency of extreme weather events – from heat waves and droughts to the so-called “water bombs”, which are torrential rainfall in a short period of time, falling over an area and causing devastating floods, Greenreport said.
The “Folio” edition, however, recalls that in Tuscany, torrential rains and floods have been classics in autumn for centuries. Similar disasters occurred in 1966, 1844, 1758, 1740, 1589, 1557, 1547, 1333, 1269, 1117, and these were the cases of floods in and around Florence. In the floods of 1557, when the Arno River overflowed through the city, the water reached 5 meters at the site of the current Verdi Street. The flood of 1547 took the lives of over 100 people, the publication recalls. “At least in some of these previous cases, there is no way for opposition leader Schlein to claim that internal combustion engines contributed to them,” notes “Folio”.
By an evil irony of fate, the disaster in Tuscany now almost coincided with the anniversary of a similar disaster, “Sky TG 24” recalls. On November 4, 1966, after several days of rain, the Arno River overflowed and flooded Florence and other areas. There were 35 victims, 17 in Florence alone. The water invaded churches, institutions, homes, shops, museums. Huge damage was caused to the cultural and historical heritage, including paintings and other works of art, manuscripts, books. The water entered the Old Bridge, the Palazzo Vecchio, the cathedral, and the Uffizi Museum’s vaults. Getting around the city is only possible by boat. Four thousand families are left without a roof over their heads, and the total number of people affected by the floods is 20,000. The water supply and the electricity supply are interrupted, and the government in Rome learns hours later what is happening in Florence. At first, the number of victims was believed to be much higher, as the rising water washed shop window mannequins into the streets of the city, which many mistook for human corpses. On a sign, preserved to this day in the neighborhood near the Basilica of Santa Croce, it is written that during this flood the water level there reached 4 meters and 92 centimeters. Volunteers from all over Italy arrived in Florence to help save, clean and dry the works of art damaged during the floods – and to this day these people are known as the “Mud Angels”.
As for the other area where, according to Corriere della Sera, storm Kieran claimed one life, the Veneto area, it also marked a dark anniversary on November 4. On this date, also in 1966, the highest tide level was recorded in the Venetian Lagoon, as the so-called “high water” reached 194 centimeters, local publications recall.
Another serious natural disaster that befell the Veneto in the past was the powerful tornado that killed 36 people on September 11, 1970. In the “Santa Elena” district of Venice, the elements overturned one of the city transport boats, killing 21 people. Today, in the area of the ferry stop, there is a memorial plaque for those who died in the disaster.