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Elon Musk's SpaceX and Italy's Unipol join forces to help Italians hit by flooding

FILE PHOTO: Tesla CEO Musk

MILAN (Reuters) - Elon Musk's SpaceX and Unipol Gruppo agreed to join forces to help people hit by flooding in northern Italy connect to the Internet, facilitating rescue operations, the Italian insurer said on Saturday.

Torrential rains devastated the eastern side of the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, killing 14 people, causing billions of euros worth of damage and hitting agriculture particularly hard.

Around 36,000 people were forced to leave their homes and many of those who remained in flooded areas were left with no electricity. Rescue efforts are hampered by persistent bad weather and disruptions on phone lines

Under the agreement, Unipol acquired SpaceX's Starlink satellite internet terminals and will make them available for rescuers, hospitals and the public. SpaceX is positioning its satellites to prioritise the Emilia-Romagna region and provide improved coverage.

"SpaceX, Starlink and Tesla are happy to be of use in any way to help Italy and the people affected by the flooding", Musk said in a statement.

(Reporting by Gianluca Semeraro, Editing by Louise Heavens)