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FLOODS

UPDATE: 10 killed in flash floods in central Italy

At least 10 people died and four were missing after flash floods hit the central Italian Marche region overnight, officials said on Friday.

UPDATE: 10 killed in flash floods in central Italy
An ambulance passes a damaged car following floods overnight which left at least ten people dead in the province of Ancona, Marche. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

Emergency services provisionally put the death toll at seven earlier on Friday but this rose mid-morning to 10.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi confirmed the toll, while saying it could change, before heading to the town of Ostra near Ancona, one of the places worst hit.

More than 400 millimetres (16 inches) of rain fell there over a few hours on Thursday evening.

One of the four people reported missing was a child travelling in a car. The mother was rescued but the child was washed away by the floodwaters, AGI said.

Water swept through towns and villages, turning streets into rivers and flooding homes, with the worst damage reported in the Ancona area.

READ ALSO: Italy records ‘five times’ more extreme weather events in ten years

All the victims reported so far are in the province of Ancona, according to local media.

The fire brigade said it had rescued dozens of people overnight “who took refuge on roofs and in trees” during the floods.

Another tweet from the fire brigade read: “the search for missing persons continues among mud and felled trees”.

The streets of the port town of Senigallia were turned into rivers, while aerial footage of the inland hamlet of Pianello di Ostra showed streets caked with mud and cars piled up after being swept away.

The wave of bad weather that hit the area “was not expected at these levels, we had no alert in place. The flooding was sudden,” Marche regional councilor for civil protection Stefano Aguzzi told Ansa.

“There was no time to intervene. There are people who may have been on the street or who had gone out not realising the danger.”

Several areas in Ancona were without electricity or telephone connections. Schools were closed on Friday in the affected areas.

Residents clear up and assess the damage after flash flooding in the Italian province of Ancona, Marche. Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP.

Draghi announced five million euros in emergency funds for the area and visited Ostra to offer his condolences in person.

“We will do everything possible… you can count on us,” said the premier, who is set to leave office following elections on September 25th.

READ ALSO: Deadly floods force Italy’s politicians to face climate crisis

Speaking in Rome earlier, Draghi also made an explicit link between the flooding and global warming, saying: “We see it concretely in what happened today how the fight against climate change is fundamental.”

Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said its teams were heading to help.

“Very concerned by the growth of extreme weather events,” he said on Twitter.

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CLIMATE CRISIS

Italian climate activists throw flour over Andy Warhol car

Italian environmental group Ultima Generazione on Friday poured flour over a sports car painted by Andy Warhol on display in Milan, in the latest of a wave of protests demanding action on climate change.

Italian climate activists throw flour over Andy Warhol car

Protesters entered the Fabbrica del Vapore exhibition space in Milan at around 11am on Friday morning and threw eight kilos of flour over a BMW sports car painted by the late Andy Warhol back in 1979. 

Two members of the environmental group Ultima Generazione (‘Last Generation’) then proceeded to glue their hands to the car’s windows. 

At the time of writing it wasn’t clear whether the artwork, valued at 10 million euros, had suffered any significant damage.

“They told us beauty will save the world, but that’s bullshit,” Ultima Generazione sad in a statement released immediately afterwards.

“Only immediate and radical actions to tackle the effects of the current climate crisis will change the world as we know it.”

Activists from Italy’s Ultima Generazione after their latest protest in Milan on Friday, November 18th. Photo: Ultima Generazione.

In the same statement, the group referred to the Italian government’s handling of the environmental crisis as “criminal”, accusing people in power of “endangering people’s lives”.

Friday’s episode was only the latest in a series of demonstrations seeking to jolt public opinion over the consequences of climate change and the need to make the switch to renewable energy sources.

READ ALSO: Climate activists hurl pea soup at Van Gogh painting in Rome

Only two weeks ago, on November 4th, protesters from the same group hurled pea soup at a Van Gogh painting in Rome – an action which Italy’s new culture minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, later condemned as “ignoble”. 

Ultima Generazione began in 2021 as a “campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience” aimed at uniting Italian activists concerned about climate change and the future of the planet.

The group has two main demands. Firstly, they ask that the reopening of old coal power plants be paused immediately and that all scheduled fracking operations be cancelled. 

Secondly, they want an increase in the use of solar energy and wind power equivalent to at least 20 gigawatts. 

Ultima Generazione is part of a EU-wide network of climate activists who have been recently targeting world-famous artworks, including Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” in The Hague, Netherlands and Gustav Klimt’s “Death and Life” in Vienna.

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