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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Italy declares drought emergency

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Italy emergency drought / Credit: EPA

Italy has declared a state of emergency in five northern regions surrounding the Po River amid the worst drought in 70 years.

Emilia-Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lombardy, Piedmont and Veneto will be given €36.5m (£31m; $38m) in emergency funds to tackle the water shortage.

The drought threatens more than 30% of Italy’s agricultural produce, according to the agricultural union Coldiretti.

Several municipalities have already announced water rationing.

Unusually hot weather and low rainfall across winter and spring have compounded water shortages in northern Italy.

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“The state of emergency is aimed at managing the current situation with extraordinary means and powers,” the Italian government said.

It said it could take further measures if the situation did not improve.

The Po is Italy’s longest river, flowing eastward for more than 650km (404 miles).

Farmers in the Po Valley say salty seawater is now seeping into the river, destroying crops.

On Monday Prime Minister Mario Draghi visited the Dolomites mountain range where 13 people are missing after the collapse of a glacier. He said the disaster was “without doubt” linked to global warming.

At least seven people died and eight were hurt on the Marmolada mountain, in an avalanche caused by the glacier’s collapse.

Drones equipped with thermal imaging are taking part in the search for the missing, who include several foreigners.

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