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Italy declares drought emergency in five regions

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Status: 04.07.2022 22:40

Northern Italy is experiencing its worst drought in 70 years and a major fire has broken out in Rome. The government has declared a state of emergency in several regions. Spain and Portugal are also suffering from extreme drought.

The Italian government of Prime Minister Mario Draghi has declared a state of emergency in five regions due to drought in the north of the country. This allows authorities to order immediate measures such as water rationing, circumventing the usual regulations.

As the government announced after a council of ministers, the state of emergency in the regions of Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lombardy, Piedmont and Veneto will apply until the end of the year. This concerns the areas around the river Po, a region from which comes around a third of Italian agricultural production. It is experiencing the worst drought in 70 years.

The water levels of Lake Maggiore and Lake Garda are significantly lower than normal for this time of year. The Tiber, which runs through Rome, also has low water.

The government also announced that it would provide 36.5 million euros in emergency aid. According to earlier news reports, Draghi plans to appoint a commissioner to tackle the drought, similar to how the government created a special post to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Great fire in Rome

In Rome, a major fire broke out in a park in the northwest of the city, a few kilometers from the Vatican, according to firefighters. A helicopter is supporting ground units in extinguishing the fire. In the center of the city, ash was partly falling from the sky and a tall column of smoke was visible. There were initially no reports of injuries. Emergency services brought children from two sports centers to safety.

On the popular holiday island of Sicily, the highest forest fire alert level applies in many provinces, for example around Palermo and Messina. On Monday, Civil Defense reported five requests for firefighting aircraft support from Sicily and Lazio, which surround the capital Rome. Other requests came from Calabria, Puglia and Veneto in southern Italy. Officials said five fires had been brought under control.

Extreme drought also in Spain and Portugal

Spain and Portugal are also suffering from extreme drought. According to a study published in the journal Nature Geoscience, parts of both countries are drier than they have been in 1,000 years. The reason is a change in the Azores high pressure area triggered by climate change. This has a major impact on long-term weather and climate trends in Western Europe. According to the authors of the study, winter rainfall is “vital” for the ecological and economic health of the Iberian Peninsula.

Previous studies had been unable to show whether human-induced climate change is responsible for climate change in the North Atlantic – now the authors say they have found the link.

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Source www.tagesschau.de

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