Rome, May 17 (EFE).- At least five people have died and one was missing after severe floods devastated entire towns in the northeastern Italian region of Emilia Romagna, officials said Wednesday.
More than 5,000 people have been evacuated from those towns, where electricity and telephone services are down.
The Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, due to begin on Friday and run until Sunday, has been called off.
The Italian Minister of Civil Protection, Nello Musumeci, told a press conference that the situation in the area was “critical”, although it could improve in the coming hours once the rains pass.
More than 20 towns in the region have been flooded, because “all the rivers of Emilia Romagna have overflowed”, Musumeci said.
“The average amount of rain that fell in the last 36 hours was 200 millimeters and in some areas it reached 500 millimeters,,” he said, “which gives an idea of the amount of rain that has fallen given that the average for the whole season is 1,000 millimeters”.
Many areas have been cut off after provincial roads flooded, while sections of the freeway which runs along the Adriatic coast, as well as the regional railway traffic, were “completely blocked”.
The floods have left about 50,000 users without power, while another 110,000 have mobile and landline telephone service issues.
The Formula One Grand Prix due to take place this weekend at Imola has been canceled because of the flooding situation in Emilia Romagna.
In a statement, F1 said after discussions with the relevant authorities and stakeholders, “the decision has been taken not to proceed with the Grand Prix weekend in Imola” because “it is not possible to safely hold the event (…) and it is the right and responsible thing to do given the situation” in the region.
“It would not be right to put further pressure on the local authorities and emergency services at this difficult time,” the statement concluded.
The decision came after Italian deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini had called for the Grand Prix to be called off amid the torrential rains lashing the north of the country, which had already forced the evacuation of the Imola circuit on Tuesday.
The Santerno river which runs adjacent to the circuit burst its banks, flooding the sports facilities and several stretches of road leading the track, as well as the parking lot and some grassy hills where grandstands for supporters are installed. EFE