At least 13 people have died in floods and landslides as a result of heavy rainfall in Italy, according to Italian media. Over ten thousand residents in the affected areas of the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy were forced to leave their homes. Around a hundred severe landslides were reported.

In the region, nearly two dozen rivers burst their banks between Tuesday and Wednesday, 36 cities and towns were flooded, and 48 local governments reported landslides. The total number of deaths from the floods rose to 13, as reported by the newspaper "La Repubblica".

The full extent of the damage is slowly becoming visible: bridges were washed away, as a video at the "Corriere della Sera" shows. There is damage to roads and houses.

Many residents in the Emilia-Romagna region had to escape to higher floors or to the roof of their houses. According to the vice-president of the region, Irene Priolo, "more than 10,000 people" have been evacuated. On Thursday, authorities in Ravenna ordered the immediate evacuation of the three villages of Villanova di Ravenna, Filetto and Roncalceci after the Lamone River burst its banks.

Around 27,000 residents of the disaster region were still without electricity on Thursday, according to authorities. The Po, the longest river in the country, became a powerful river again within two weeks after the drought in recent months and historically low water levels.

"I've never seen anything like it"

The Foreign Office (AA) in Berlin referred to "extreme weather" and heavy rainfall in Italy in its travel advice on the Internet. There will be restrictions in regional rail traffic. "In the interior of the country, there is a risk of flooding and landslides; storm surges can occur along the entire coast, including central and southern Italy," the AA said.

"Particular caution is currently being exercised in the regions of Emilia-Romagna and Sicily (in each case the highest alert level)," the AA continued. Contrary to local media reports, a spokesman for the prefecture of Forli-Cesena told AFP that no Germans were among the fatalities.

"I've lived here since I was born, but I've never seen anything like it," Simona Matassoni, owner of the Savio hotel in the small town of Cesena, told AFP. Mayor Enzo Lattuca called on all residents "under no circumstances to go to basements or basements" and, if possible, not to stay on the ground floor.

In the particularly affected town of Forlì, many residents fled barefoot and panicked in the darkness of the night from the masses of water. According to an AFP photographer, the water was up to their chests for some. "This is the end of the world," Mayor Gian Luca Zattini wrote on Facebook. His city is "on the ground".

Regional President Stefano Bonaccini said Emilia-Romagna had been hit "as if by an earthquake". The mayor of the city of Bologna, Matteo Lepore, urged residents to "be extremely careful". Under no circumstances should they take their car. If they could not get to safety on higher floors, they should leave their homes, he advised on the online platform Instagram.

Rescue workers worked around the clock to get people to safety. Some children and elderly people carried them on their backs, others were rescued in rubber dinghies. The Italian military and the coast guard were called in to support the rescue work, and some residents were taken by helicopter from the houses trapped by masses of water.

The Formula 1 race planned for Sunday in Imola literally fell into the water. The level of the Santerno River, which borders the slope, had risen dangerously, so the organizers decided to cancel the race. They could not guarantee the safety of fans, teams and staff, they said on Wednesday. Ferrari announced on Thursday that it would donate one million euros for emergency aid in the crisis region. The money is intended to benefit those affected by the floods and will primarily flow into environmental and climate protection projects. "In difficult times, Ferrari has always stood by its community," the carmaker's boss, Benedetto Vigna, said in a statement.

Pope Francis has expressed his condolences to the victims of the sometimes dramatic floods in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna and their relatives. The head of the Catholic Church prays for the deceased and their families, who were also affected by the "tremendous catastrophe," it said in a telegram to the Archbishop of Bologna, Matteo Maria Zuppi, on Thursday. He also implored "consolation for the injured and those suffering from the consequences of the serious accident".

In Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia, too, the extreme weather phenomena that climate researchers have been warning about for years are now making themselves felt again.