Italy's Drought Is Now So Intense, Old Shipwrecks Are Starting to Emerge

Due to a catastrophic drought impacting Italy's greatest river, a World War II-era wreckage has been discovered.

From the Cottian Alps to the Adriatic Sea, the Po River flows 405 miles (651.8 km). It is presently experiencing its worst drought in 70 years, which has resulted in the resurfacing of a decades-old sunken ship.

The Zibello, a 160-foot (48.8-meter) barge that sank in 1943 after transporting wood during WWII, is generally concealed beneath the Po's waters, according to the Associated Press. The river's water levels are now so low that the debris may be seen by passers-by.

"It's the first time that we can see this barge," amateur cyclist Raffaele Vezzali told the Associated Press from a park near Gualtieri.

Alessio Bonin used his drone to photograph the devastation. It was a shocking sight, he told The Guardian.

"In recent years you could see the bow of the boat, so we knew it was there, but to see the vessel so exposed in March, when it was essentially still winter, was very dramatic," Bonin explained. "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."

The drought is being exacerbated by a multitude of causes brought on by climate change. According to the Associated Press, Northern Italy has been without rain for more than 110 days, snowfall is down 70% this year, and above-average temperatures are melting snow and glaciers on the surrounding Alps, depleting the Po basin's summer water reserves.

The Po River Basin Authority's secretary general, Meuccio Berselli, told the Associated Press that river flow in one riverbank community called Boretto averages 476,000 gallons per second. It's down to 80,000 gallons per second now.

According to the Associated Press, the drought is threatening drinking water supplies, agriculture irrigation in Italy's most densely cultivated region, and hydroelectric power facilities for electricity generation.