MOSCOW, October 12 (RIA Novosti) - Heavy rainfall in Genoa, Italy has resulted in heavy damage to the city and one man’s drowning, Italian news wire ANSA reports.
On Friday, October 10, 7-10 inches (18-25 cm) of rain drenched the Italian city of Genoa, and another 7-12 fell on the nearby Apennine Mountains, causing the banks of local rivers including the Bisagno to break, Weather.com reports.
The city’s civil protection center told residents of the city to stay off the roads and in their homes, while evacuating people living in the Sant’Agata district of the city. Cars were swept away through the streets and piled up on top of one another, many homes lost electricity, and schools and markets were closed.
The A7 Highway between Genoa and Milan was closed after a landslide caused by heavy flooding blocked the road. A train traveling from Turin to Genoa was derailed outside the city due to a mudslide. Miraculously, only the driver was injured, euronews reports.
Thick layers of silt and mud covered city streets, reaching a meter high in some places, Italy’s Corriere Della Sera reported.
A 57-year-old man identified as Antonio Campanella was swept away and drowned near the location where the Bisagno River overflowed, according to the Italian media.
Liguria Regional Governor Claudio Burlando estimated that the storm had caused approximately 200 million euros in damage to public infrastructure, Reuters stated.
Rainfall in the city was 74 percent higher than the average for the month of October, the online news site thelocal.it reported.
Lack of Warning, Preparation Leads to Scandal
The city’s lack of advanced warning and long-term prevention measures has outraged local residents and sparked anger across the country.
Angry residents criticized city officials for failing to give any warning about the inclement weather and the potential for flooding. One woman told euronews that residents “did not receive any alert even though it has been raining heavily for two days.” Another resident noted that “nobody did anything to protect us and this is the result. I have been living here for 46 years and we’ve suffered four floodings.”
Residents shouted at municipal police who had come to check water levels, and there were many cases of looting of homes and businesses reported. Four people were arrested for robbing two shops which had been hit by flooding, Gazzetta del Sud reported.
The city’s mayor, Marco Doria, admitted that “the alert was not given,” but blamed the regional meteorology agency, ARPAL, which said it could not predict the torrent until after it had already begun, ANSA said.
Flooding had earlier hit the city in 2011, killing seven people. Despite the 35 million euros earmarked for the construction of barriers along the Bisagno River to prevent future floods, work on the project has not even begun due to bureaucratic and legal disputes, ANSA reported.
Italy’s biggest daily newspaper the Corriere della Sera ran the headline “The Mud of Genoa, Shame of a Country” on Saturday, Reuters noted.
"What is really alarming is how little has been done in three years to make Genoa secure from another flooding disaster," said Francesco Vincenzi, the President of ANBI, an association which deals with flooding and water safety issues, according to Reuters.
Carlo Malgarotto, President of the Regional Council of Liguria, told Reuters that Genoa’s lack of preparation is the result of “a mass of problems together. You have houses built in the wrong places, inadequate water channeling systems, and poor planning and administration."
The city’s authorities have long been criticized about unregulated building and the poor state of some city infrastructure, especially given the regularity with which the region faces flooding. The economic crisis in the country may be partly to blame for public spending limits, Reuters has said.
Northern Italy and southern France received the brunt of damage which resulted from the heavy rain that hit Europe this week, especially the French city of Gard, Weather.com reported.