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Two killed in floods as Piedmont declares state of emergency

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Two killed in floods as Piedmont declares state of emergency
The Po river overflowing in Italy's northern Piedmont region. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP
12:32 CEST+02:00
Two people have died during violent storms in the north which flooded towns and destroyed a bridge, the Italian fire service said on Tuesday.

One of those killed was a taxi driver whose car was swept away after a river burst its banks in the Serravalle area of Alessandria. Another driver, an 81-year-old pensioner, reportedly died in a car accident in torrential rain in Strambino, near Turin.

READ ALSO: Milan flooded and Genoa on red alert as storms batter northern Italy

The extreme weather has caused major damage and massive disruption for rail and road traffic. Schools are also closed in much of Liguria and Piedmont on Tuesday, and the Piedmont region has requesed a state of emergency be declared in the badly-hit province of Alessandria.

Over 100 people were evacuated on Monday across the Alessandria province, while firefighters carried out 900 operations across the north from Milan to Genoa, as rising waters surged across roads and railways.

The taxi was swept away in the town of Capriate d'Orba, where a bridge had also given way as the river burst its banks.

A passenger managed to escape the vehicle and survived by clinging to a tree, media reported.

Two men, aged 61 and 84, were also reported missing in another part of the storm-hit region, firefighters said.

The Po river rose by over 3.5 metres over a 24-hour period, according to Italian agricultural association Coldiretti.

Lake Maggiore was also nearing a historic level.

As much as 253mm of rain has fallen in some parts of the region over the past twelve hours, local authorities said.

Parts of the Piemonte region will remain on yellow (medium) alert throughout Tuesday and Wednesday as more bad weather is expected.

Italy has seen "over three storms a day since the start of autumn, 18 percent more than the same period last year," Coldiretti said.

"And while the north is under rain clouds... in the south, record heat and lack of rainfall has triggered a drought alarm."

Italy was seeing "the effects of climate change, with exceptional weather events becoming the norm".

It noted a "clear tendency to tropicalisation" in the Mediterranean country, which was experiencing "a crazy autumn that ranks in the top ten of the hottest since 1800, with a temperature of 1.27 degrees above the average".

The high frequency of violent events was expected to continue, with the north pummelled by rains while farmers in the south risk losing crops.

READ ALSO: Climate crisis: Italian beekeepers suffer 'worst honey harvest ever"

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