Cyclone Cleopatra forces Italy to declare state of Emergency
‘Apocalyptic’ — this was how Olbia mayor Gianni Giovanelli described the damage that cyclone Cleopatra left in the Italian island region of Sardinia.
The picturesque island with pristine coasts was left devastated after the cyclone passed the island on Tuesday. Flashfloods have caused bridges to collapse, displacement and loss or damage to livelihood and property. According to estimates, 18 people have been killed by the storm.
Reports revealed that the northeast city of Olbia was the worst-hit. Around 440mm or 17.3 inches of rain within 90 minutes caused flashfloods up to 10ft high in some places in the region. According to BBC’s weather centre, cyclone Cleopatra’s devastating effect in Sardinia was exceptional. While the Mediterranean is unsettled at this time of the year, cyclones to this extent are not normal.
Sardinian governor Ugo Cappellacci commented that the situation in the island was ‘dramatic.’ Sardinian Forestry Guard inspector Antioco Bus said ‘Even the elderly people say they can’t remember something like this happening. The last time maybe was in 1951. But not like this.’
The Sardinian civil protection authority is now at maximum alert. Official Giorgio Cicalo said ‘We haven’t seen a situation as extreme as this, perhaps for decades – especially because it’s been across the whole island.’
Prime Minister Enrico Letta has declared a state of emergency as a response to this ‘national tragedy.’ He has also announced that 20 million euros will be set aside for emergency relief efforts and deployment of soldiers. He said ‘We are focusing on essential operations: saving human lives, assisting displaced people and clearing road access.’
Italian president Giorgio Napolitano has sent his ‘heartfelt sympathy to the families of the many victims’ and expressed his solidarity with the affected communities.