Moment eco activists are dragged out of Rome’s iconic Trevi Fountain by police after they turned water black with charcoal dye in fossil fuels protest

  • Activists warned that severe flooding to hit the country this week is a ‘warning’ 
  • It came as flooding in Emilia Romagna is said to be Italy’s worst in a century 

Climate activists in Italy were dragged out of Rome’s famous Trevi Fountain on Sunday after a protest against the continued funding of fossil fuels, saying floods that have killed 14 people in the country’s northeast this week were ‘a warning’.

Seven activists from the anti-climate change organisation Last Generation climbed into the landmark fountain and poured a vegetable-based charcoal dye into it at 11:30am (10:30am GMT) to turn the water black.

Hundreds of people who were visiting the fountain stopped to watch the protest before police arrived and began arresting and escorting away those involved.

The Trevi Fountain’s most iconic moment saw Swedish actress Anita Ekberg go for a dip in Federico Fellini’s film ‘La Dolce Vita’.

The protest came as Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni arrived in Emilia Romagna to visit areas devastated by floods described as the worst in a century after six months’ worth of rains fell in 36 hours.

Environmental activists are removed from the famous Trevi fountain by police officers

Seven activists entered the fountain at 11:30am local time on Sunday

Over 36,000 people have been displaced by the disaster, with costs already in the hundreds of millions of euros.

Protesters at the fountain on Sunday held banners reading ‘let’s not pay for fossils’ and shouted ‘our country is dying’.

Police pulling protestors out of the water confiscated the banners as tourists either applauded or booed.

Activist Charlie, 18, said: ‘I’m taking my first non-violent civil disobedience action to get institutions to stop investing in fossil fuels. 

‘Flood disasters and drought and extreme heat events have triggered fear, anxiety, and anger in me.’

They added they expect to be punished for their actions by the Italian government, but said: ‘By now, however, it should be clear that we are not the real ecovandals, the real barbarians are those who continue to accelerate the environmental devastation underway for mere economic profit.’

Mattia, 19, who did not give his last name, was cited as taking part ‘because the horrible tragedy experienced in these days in Emilia Romagna is a forewarning of the black future that awaits mankind’.

He highlighted figures that one out of four houses in Italy is at risk of flooding, representing an estimated annual cost of £3 billion.

Uniformed police waded into the water to take away the activists, with many tourists filming the stunt and a few of the onlookers shouting insults at the protesters, video footage showed.

The environmental group said the carbon liquid used for the protest did not damage the fountain, but Rome mayor Roberto Gualtieri said the clean-up would ‘cost time, effort and water, because this is a fountain which uses recirculating water’.

‘We now have to empty it, and throw away 300,000 litres of water,’ he said. 

Uniformed and ununiformed police waded into the water to take away the activists

Rome mayor Roberto Gualtieri condemned the protest, the latest in a series of acts targeting works of art in Italy

Activists were transported from the tourist site to waiting police cars

Activists held up banners and chanted, but tourists were not impressed by their behaviour

Last Generation began carrying out peaceful but disruptive protests in Italy last year ahead of the general election

In a statement, Ultima Generazione called for an end to public subsidies for fossil fuels and linked the protests to deadly floods in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna in recent days.

Roberto Gualtieri condemned the protest – the latest in a series of acts targeting works of art in Italy.

‘Enough of these absurd attacks on our artistic heritage,’ he wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni visited flood-hit areas of northern Italy on Sunday after returning early from the G7 summit in Japan to lead the response to the disaster.

Read more: Death toll from Italy’s devastating floods climbs to 13 as rescue teams attempt to reach towns blocked off by landslides

Meloni’s plane landed around lunchtime in the Adriatic city of Rimini and she began to visit towns in the Emilia-Romagna region where the floods have killed 14 people and caused billions of euros worth of damage.

Agriculture has been hit hard in an area which grows fruit such as peaches, kiwis and apricots, as well as corn and grain.

The rain had stopped on Sunday and rescue teams and local volunteers were trying to pump out buildings and sweep away mud caking the streets before it could set hard under the sun.

Meloni had left the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Hiroshima a day earlier than scheduled, saying her conscience would not allow her to stay away longer.

The Italian government will hold a cabinet meeting on Tuesday to decide on measures to help people to cope with the emergency.

Last Generation began carrying out peaceful but disruptive protests in Italy last year ahead of the general election, urging politicians from all parties to make climate change their priority.

The protests in Italy are part of a series of actions across Europe to focus attention on climate change.

Activists have thrown soup, cake, mashed potatoes or washable paint at heritage and culture sites and artworks in museums.

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