Nine dead in northern Italy floods, Formula One race called off

Rome, May 18 (BNA): Officials said today, Wednesday, that nine people were killed and thousands evacuated from their homes due to heavy rains that swept the Emilia-Romagna region in northern Italy, causing floods and landslides.

Civil Protection Minister Nilo Musumesi said some areas had received half of their average annual rainfall in just 36 hours, causing rivers to flood their banks, sending water rushing through cities and inundating thousands of acres of farmland.

Sunday’s Formula 1 Grand Prix in Imola, which is close to several of the hardest-hit areas, has been canceled in an effort to relieve pressure on emergency services and prevent motor racing fans from gathering in the flooded area.

“We are facing catastrophic events that we may not have seen before,” Stefano Bonaccini, head of the Emilia-Romagna region, told reporters.

“Extraordinary amounts of rain fell on a land that could no longer absorb it.”

The port city of Ravenna on the Adriatic Sea, famous for its early Christian heritage sites, was hit hard. A representative of the local Ministry of Interior said that about 14,000 people would have to be evacuated from the area as soon as possible.

Authorities said the floods affected 37 towns and communities and some 120 landslides were recorded. At least one bridge has collapsed near the city of Bologna, some roads have been undermined by floodwaters and many rail services have been halted.

Bonacini said nine bodies had been recovered from different locations. Erin Priollo, the district’s deputy chief, told reporters that although rainfall has decreased, river levels are still rising.

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Civil Protection Minister Musumechi said he would ask the cabinet to allocate 20 million euros ($22 million) to the affected region when it meets on May 23 to discuss relief measures.

Government officials said tax and mortgage payments would be suspended in flood-affected areas during the emergency.


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