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Europe heatwave: Scorching Italy’s temperatures soar as worst drought in decades hits

Weather: Italy suffers worst drought in 70 years

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A dry and cracked river bed lays bare for all to see as it reaches some of its lowest levels in seven decades. The images come after a sweltering 40C heatwave, described as being “unusually early”, swept across Europe. This, it’s thought, has contributed to a severe lack of rainfall, along with a water deficit which was already caused by a dry winter. The northern part of the country is experiencing its worst drought since 1952.

The river normally sits at about 2,000 metres deep, with pockets sometimes stretching further down to 6,000 metres.

But shocking scenes emerging in the last weeks are showing the water has dried up in some areas, leaving large parts exposed to the beating sunshine.

The mayor of Milan, in northern Italy, ordered public decorative fountains to be turned off, along with water sprinklers.

And on Friday, June 24 a state of emergency was declared in the surrounding Lombardy region.

Neighbouring Emilia Romagna and Piemonte have also adopted similar crisis measures.

The Po spans 405 miles long flowing eastwards across northern Italy from the snowy Alps.

International reports have said climate change has caused areas to turn into makeshift beaches in Boretto, with people even exploring the dense ground and taking their dogs for a walk.

In the same region, Lake Como, which joins Bellano, also dropped a dramatic 16cm over a 72 hour period last week.

Last Wednesday, Italian regional officials met with the head of the Civil Protection, Fabrizio Curcio, over the heatwave.

The regions called for a “state of emergency”, Meuccio Berselli, secretary general of the Po-MiTE River Authority said.

He said: “Let’s remember that the state of emergency serves to do things.

“We are working to define what the activities are that follow the state of emergency, which is not an idea but consists of a series of actions that must be done.

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“Together with the declaration, the actions have to come, so we are working on it.”

There are concerns that more damage could be done, as the mercury across Italy is set to heat up once again in July.

While the country is usually fairly hot at this time of year anyway, next week temperatures could skyrocket to 36C.

Interactive maps also show fleeting rain clouds darting across the country, but completely missing the areas under a serious drought.

By next Monday, July 4 thermometers will be soaring back up to the mid 30s.

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