Heatwave in Italy triggers emergencies and threatens agriculture

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A woman takes shelter from the sun with an umbrella in hot weather at the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, June 17, 2022. (Photo by Alberto Lingria/Xinhua)

ROME, June 17 (Xinhua) — A heat wave swept through Italy this week, triggering emergencies in at least four cities and putting half of the northern agricultural production at risk of drought.

An orange heat emergency, the second highest level of emergency, was declared Friday in the northern cities of Brescia and Turin, as well as Florence and Perugia in central Italy. The most vulnerable – the elderly, children, the chronically ill and pregnant women – are urged to stay indoors during the hottest hours of the day.

Three of these four cities have declared a 24-hour state of emergency. In Turin, however, the state is expected to continue for several days and escalate to “red” on Sunday, the most serious condition.

Temperatures in parts of the north exceeded 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) on Friday.

Agricultural association Agricotori Italiani said up to half of northern Italy’s agricultural production was now at risk due to drought conditions.

He said the volume of rainfall in these regions so far this year was only half the volume of last year and estimated 1 billion euros (1.1 billion US dollars) in damage. .

According to Alberto Cirio, governor of the Piedmont region where Turin is located, the Po River, Italy’s longest waterway crucial for agricultural irritation, is 72% below its normal water level.

He said parts of the region had not reported any rain for more than 110 days, a situation exacerbated by the lack of snow during the winter months.

On Friday, Cirio ordered that 170 towns in Piedmont use water only for “essential” purposes such as drinking and cooking.

According to Edoardo Zanchini, the new director of the climate change office in Rome, high temperatures and drought will be more frequent. He called on local and national governments to take steps to adapt to the trend.

“It’s not just a problem in Italy, but all over Europe,” Zanchini told Xinhua. “A similar situation was reported in 2003, when heat waves killed thousands of people. And just like this year, the high temperatures already started in June.”

He predicted a flamboyant and difficult summer this year.

He was picked up by Antonio Caito, 61, a fruit grower near Cuneo in Piedmont, who advised farmers to take action and make their crops more resilient.

“We used to have extreme weather like this once in ten years,” Caito told Xinhua. “These days, climate emergencies are reported almost every year.”

Tiziana D’Andrea, a 22-year-old university student in Rome, said the heat was already becoming unbearable. “Yet the hottest summer days are yet to come.”

A woman refreshes herself with water in hot weather at the Barcaccia Fountain in Rome, Italy, June 17, 2022. (Photo by Alberto Lingria/Xinhua)

(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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