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Pope shuts off fountains amid drought

26 July 2017

The Vatican says it is shutting off all its fountains, including those in St Peter's Square, because of Italy's drought.

Suffocating summer heat, coupled with two years of below-average rainfall, has forced the Italian capital to close drinking fountains and consider water rationing.

The Vatican is shutting down its fountains in the midst of an ongoing drought, turning off around 100 fountains in the tiny city-state, some of which are centuries old.

Dairy farmers and those growing olives, tomatoes and wine grapes are among the most affected, farmers' association Coldiretti warns. Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi said in an interview with Il Messaggero on Monday that she would intervene to stop the rationing. A state of emergency has been declared in northern Italy, and Rome has already switched off its drinking fountains.

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Italy had one of its driest springs in 60 years and rainfall in some parts of the country has been 80 percent below normal levels, according to meteorologists.

"The truth is Lake Bracciano has fallen too much and we risk an environmental disaster", Nicola Zingaretti, the President of the local Lazio region, told Tgcom24 TV station, as cited by Reuters, adding that "it is a tragedy".

The Vatican's decision to shut off their fountains is just the latest show of support from the state and Pope Francis on environmental issues.

"Violent thunderstorms and hailstones on farmland exhausted by drought in a insane summer marked by extreme (weather) events has driven up the financial losses in the countryside to more that 2 billion euros ($2.3 billion)" Coldiretti said in a statement Tuesday.

Pope shuts off fountains amid drought