Friday, December 12, 2008

Torrential rains in Italy

Bloomberg: Italy is being hit by extreme weather, as the heaviest rains in more than a century flood cities up and down the peninsula, drowning Venice’s St. Mark’s Square and Rome’s cobbled medieval streets. The city of Rome declared a state of emergency today after a woman died while trapped in a car in a flooded underpass. Almost a quarter of Venice is under water amid the highest tides in 22 years. Record snowfall on Sicily’s Mount Etna, Europe’s highest active volcano, has left eight Boy Scouts stranded on the mountain.

Italy’s civil protection agency predicts another 36 hours of hail, heavy rain and snowfall after two weeks of storms pushed the country’s bridges, roads and transport systems to their limit, prompting criticism about a lack of spending on aging infrastructure. The 18-meter (59-foot) walls built to retain Rome’s Tiber River date back to the city’s 1870 flood.

The banks of the Tiber today spilled onto the city’s streets, threatening to submerge its island, and flooding created a lake around the 2,000-year-old Coliseum. Municipal workers removed debris from 4,500 drainage holes around the city and 12,000 others are “at risk,” according to the local government.

“This is like an unprecedented earthquake,” Mayor Giovanni Alemanno said yesterday. “In one night we had more rain than we usually have in all of December.”...

"Special Illumination on the Cathedral Plaza in Milan,, Italy, for the visit of Wilhelm II of Germany in 1875". From "L'Illustration", 1875. Drawing by Charles Fichot (1817-1903) & Paul-Adolphe Kauffmann (1849-1935?), engraving by Joseph Burn-Smeeton (floruit 1840-1880) and his pupil and later partner Auguste Tilly (18..-1898) (signed as Smeeton-Tilly).

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