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Disasters

EU supports Sweden in combating forest fires

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GP01JWE_layoutThe European Commission's Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) is facilitating the urgent provision of assistance to extinguish the forest fires raging in Sweden. Two fire-fighting aircraft, offered by Italy, are on their way to the affected areas.

Last night (3 August) Sweden activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to fight the forest fires in the mid-eastern part of the country. The ERCC immediately alerted the civil protection authorities of the countries participating in the Mechanism. By this morning, three countries offered assistance, and the Italian offer was accepted as most suitable for the needs on the ground. No further assistance is needed at this stage.

"I express my sincere gratitude to the Italian authorities for providing swift support to Sweden in this moment of need. Let us hope that our biggest fear of the blaze spreading to urban areas will not materialize," said International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva. "Forest fires are a risk we tend to associate primarily with Southern Europe, but we are seeing that no country is immune. With risk like this increasing, it makes all the more sense for countries to help each other through the European Union. With the Emergency Response Coordination Centre, we help make sure that mutual assistance gets to where it is needed quickly and efficiently," the Commissioner added.

Several regions in northern Europe are currently facing heat waves which pose forest fire risks. The ERCC is actively monitoring these risks and developments across Europe. It uses national monitoring services and tools such as EFFIS (the European Forest Fire Information System) and satellite imagery to provide an overview of the situation in Europe. Throughout the summer months, it holds a weekly videoconference with national authorities from countries at greatest risk of forest fires.

Background

The European Civil Protection Mechanism facilitates co-operation in disaster response among 31 European states (EU-28 plus Iceland, Norway and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). The participating countries pool the resources that can be made available to disaster-stricken countries all over the world. When activated, the Mechanism co-ordinates the provision of assistance inside and outside the European Union. The European Commission manages the Mechanism through the Emergency Response Coordination Centre.

More information

The European Commission's humanitarian aid and civil protection
Commissioner Georgieva's website
Factsheet on EU Civil Protection

Disasters

Two killed, nine missing as drenching rain hits parts of France and Italy

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Two people died and nine people were missing in France and Italy after a storm hit border regions of the two countries, bringing record rainfall in places and causing heavy flooding that swept away roads and damaged homes, authorities said, write and .

The storm, dubbed Alex, ravaged several villages around the city of Nice on the French Riviera. Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi called it the worst flooding disaster in the area for more than a century after flying over the worst-hit area by helicopter.

“The roads and about 100 houses were swept away or partially destroyed,” he told French news channel BFM.

“I have been particularly shocked by what I saw today,” French Prime Minister Jean Castex told a news conference after visiting affected areas, adding he was concerned that the death toll could rise.

At least eight people were missing in France, authorities said. These included two firemen whose vehicle was carried away by a swollen river, according to local witnesses cited by several French media.

Television images from both countries showed several roads and bridges had been swept away by flood water and numerous rivers were reported to have burst their banks.

In Italy, at least two people died - one a fireman hit by a falling tree and another a man in his 30s whose car was swept into a river after a road subsided, local authorities said.

As night fell, one Italian was still unaccounted for while a further 16 people earlier feared missing, including a group of six German trekkers, had all been found safe.

Officials in the Piedmont region reported a record 630 mm (24.8 inches) of rain in just 24 hours in Sambughetto, close to the border with Switzerland. The Piedmont regional chief Alberto Cirio called on the government to declare a state of emergency.

The water level in the River Po jumped by 3 metres (9.84 feet) in just 24 hours.

Eric Ciotti, a member of the French parliament who is from one of the worst affected villages in the area, Saint-Martin-Vésubie, said several villages were cut off as they are located in steep-sided valleys of the mountainous region.

Meteo France said that rainfall of 500 mm (19.69 inches) of rain was registered over 24 hours in Saint-Martin-Vésubie and close to 400 mm in several other towns - the equivalent of more than three months of rain at this time of the year.

There was more rainfall than on Oct. 3 2015, when floods caused the death of 20 people in and around the French Riviera city of Cannes, Jérémy Crunchant, the director of civil protection, told France Info.

In Venice, a long-delayed flood barrier system successfully protected the lagoon city from a high tide for the first time on Saturday, bringing big relief following years of repeated inundations.

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Disasters

EU solidarity in action: €211 million to Italy to repair the damage of the harsh weather conditions in autumn 2019

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The European Commission granted €211.7 million from the EU Solidarity Fund to Italy following the extreme weather damages in late October and November 2019. This EU assistance will contribute to alleviate the extraordinary financial burden of the severe damages caused by floods and landslides, including the flooding in Venice. It will finance retroactively the restoration of vital infrastructures, measures to prevent further damage and to protect cultural heritage, as well as cleaning operations in the disaster-stricken areas. This is part of an aid package of a total of €279m addressed to Portugal, Spain, Italy and Austria hit by natural disasters in 2019.

Cohesion and Reforms Commissioner Elisa Ferreira said: “This decision is yet another sign of the EU solidarity with Italy and member states suffering from adverse effects of natural disasters. It also reminds us of the importance of investing into the EU climate action to prevent and manage consequences of bad weather conditions and side-effects of climate change.”

The EU Solidarity Fund is one of the main EU instruments for disaster recovery and, as part of the EU coordinated response to the coronavirus emergency, its scope has been recently extended to cover major health emergencies. More information on the EU Solidarity Fund is available on the data story. 

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Croatia

EU Solidarity Fund: Commission gives financial support to #Croatia following earthquake

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The Commission has announced a first disbursement of financial aid worth €88.9 million under the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) to Croatia, following the devastating earthquake that hit the city of Zagreb and its surroundings on 22 March 2020. This comes as a contribution to the country's efforts to assist the population, restore essential infrastructures and services.

Cohesion and Reforms Commissioner Elisa Ferreira said: “Croatia and its capital city have suffered one of the most severe natural disasters in more than a century, causing heavy damage and disruption. In addition, it happened at a moment when the population was already suffering from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown. Today's decision aims at alleviating the heavy burden this has had on the country and shows once again the EU solidarity in such difficult times.”

Croatia will receive the advance payment, which is the highest ever paid out under the EUSF, within the coming days. In the meantime the Commission is completing its analysis of the request submitted by the Croatian authorities and will propose a final amount of aid, to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council.

Background

On 22 March 2020, a severe earthquake hit Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, and its surroundings. In the immediate aftermath, the EU Civil Protection Mechanism was activated to provide emergency response, mobilising tents, beds, mattresses, heaters and sleeping bags from Slovenia, Hungary, Austria and Italy to be dispatched swiftly to the affected areas. The Commission also provided support to rescue and damage assessment operations via the EU's Copernicus Emergency Management Services. Croatia then submitted a full application for assistance from the EU Solidarity Fund on 11 June 2020, within the regulatory deadline of 12 weeks from the occurrence of the disaster.

The EUSF supports EU Member States and Accession Countries by offering financial support after severe natural disasters. Since its creation in 2002, the Fund has been used for 88 disasters, covering a range of catastrophic events including floods, forest fires, earthquakes, storms and drought. 24 countries (23 member states and one accession country) have been supported so far, some of which multiple times, for an amount of more than €5.5 billion. As part of the EU response to the coronavirus outbreak and the associated public health crisis, the scope of the EUSF was recently extended to cover major public health emergencies and the maximum level of advance payment was raised from €30m to €100m.

More information

EU Solidarity Fund

List of all EUSF interventions (until end 2019)

 

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