Drought in Italy is so intense old shipwrecks are emerging

·Contributor
·2 min read
A heron stands on a large 55-meter barge that was sunk by WWII American bombing in 1944 while preventing retreat of the German army, that re-emerged due to severe drought from the River Po in Gualtieri, Italy on June 15, 2022. - According to the river observatory, the drought affecting Italy's longest river Po is the worst in the last 70 years. (Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP) (Photo by PIERO CRUCIATTI/AFP via Getty Images)
A drought affecting Italy's longest river is the worst in the last 70 years. (Piero Cruciatti / AFP via Getty Images)

A Second World War shipwreck has emerged from a river in Italy after the worst drought to hit the country in 70 years led to lower water levels.

The 160-foot-long Zibello barge was used for transporting wood during the conflict and sank in the Po river in northern Italy in 1943.

Drone photographer Alessio Bonin told The Guardian: "In recent years you could see the bow of the boat, so we knew it was there.

"I've never seen such a drought at this time of year – our main worry used to be our river flooding, now we worry about it disappearing."

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Northern Italy has not seen rain in more than 110 days, and snowfall dropped 70% this year.

An Italian farm lobby has warned that regions in the country's north risk losing up to half their agricultural output due to the drought.

Lakes and rivers across much of Italy have started to run dangerously low, jeopardising irrigation.

Other rivers stretching into central Italy were also far lower than normal at this time of year, sector authority ANBI said, adding that the current crisis was highlighting "the consequences of climate change on the peninsula".

A view shows a large 55-meter barge that was sunk by WWII American bombing in 1944 while preventing retreat of the German army, that re-emerged due to severe drought from the River Po in Gualtieri, Italy on June 15, 2022. - According to the river observatory, the drought affecting Italy's longest river Po is the worst in the last 70 years. (Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP) (Photo by PIERO CRUCIATTI/AFP via Getty Images)
The large 55-metre barge was sunk by American bombing during the Second World War. (Piero Cruciatti/AFP via Getty Images)

Agricultural lobby CIA urged immediate action, calling for emergency irrigation to save crops such as tomatoes and watermelons and the creation of new infrastructure, including basins for rainwater storage.

"The total damage (is) already set to exceed 1 billion euros ($1.05 billion)," CIA said in a statement, adding that water shortages could also hit the production of corn and soya, whose supply is already under threat due to the war in Ukraine.

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The governors of the northern Piedmont and Lombardy regions – where part of the agricultural output depends on the Po river – said they would ask the national government to declare a drought state of emergency.

In some areas of Turin, Piedmont's capital, blackouts were reported overnight due to the hot weather stressing underground cables, local media reported.

Unusually high temperatures are being reported across Europe.

Spain recorded its hottest pre-summer heatwave for at least 20 years and temperatures around 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) were also reached in France.

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