Italy: ‘How bad weather and negligence kill’

20 November 2013 – Presseurop Corriere della Sera

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At least 16 people have died following flooding in northeastern Sardinia after the arrival of cyclone Cleopatra, which hit the island on November 18, reports Corriere della Sera. The Italian government has earmarked €20m for emergency aid and asked that reconstruction costs not be included in the Italian "stability pact", which seeks to limit regional government spending in line with EU budget targets.

In the wake of the tragedy, local authorities have been criticised for failing to adequately prepare, but as one mayor pointed out: “No one could have predicted that six months worth of rain would fall in 24 hours.” However, “bad luck” is not the only explanation, adds Corriere’s editorial

According to [an Italian] parliamentary environment committee’s last report [...] 68 per cent of all Europe’s landslides happen in Italy. [...] Our territory’s natural vulnerability has been made worse by mistakes. Unchecked wood cutting, construction of residential buildings in flood plains, [...] and the progressive cutting of funding for environmental risk protection: From €551m to €84m between 2009 and 2012. This year it is down to €20m.

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