- By Jaroslav Lukiv
- BBC news
Nine people have been killed and more are missing after heavy rain caused flooding in Italy’s northern Emilia-Romagna region, officials said.
Around 10,000 people have been evacuated and some had to be rescued from rooftops by helicopter.
Authorities say 14 rivers have burst their banks, flooding 23 towns. The mayor of Ravenna says his city is now “unrecognizable”.
The weekend’s Emilia-Romagna F1 Grand Prix has now been cancelled.
Discussions on Wednesday between local authorities and organizers of the race at Imola concluded that the event could not go ahead.
Further rain is expected in the region over the coming days.
“It has probably been the worst night in the history of Romagna,” Ravenna mayor Michele de Pascale told Italy’s RAI public broadcaster. “Ravenna is unrecognizable for the damage it has sustained.”
The mayor of nearby Forli, Gian Luca Zattini, said his town was “on its knees, devastated and in pain”, the AFP news agency reported.
In the town of Cesena, residents climbed onto rooftops and waited to be rescued by helicopter or boat.
In Castel Bolognese, the mayor said the situation was “catastrophic”, reports the BBC’s Sofia Bettiza in Italy. Thousands of people living in one-story houses had to be rescued, the mayor added.
There is currently no electricity in the city, adds our correspondent. People are taking shelter in gyms and schools across Emilia-Romagna.
Regional president Stefano Bonaccini confirmed that nine people had died in the floods on Wednesday, said there had been hundreds of landslides that led to roads in the region being cut off.
In an earlier Facebook post, he urged residents not to go near the rivers and advised people living near them to move to higher floors.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni led an emergency meeting with civil protection officials and later thanked rescue workers who had risked their own lives to help the victims.
Teams of volunteers have arrived to help local emergency services on the ground in the Emilia-Romagna region.
In some areas it has not been possible to measure the rainfall because the amount exceeded what their instruments could register.
Northern Italy has gone from severe drought to flooding rain, with the latest deluge caused by Storm Minerva, BBC Weather Presenter Chris Fawkes said.
“This area was also hit by torrential rain at the beginning of the month which led to flooding and this will have left saturated soil less able to soak up this latest round of heavy rain,” he added.
“This is in stark contrast to the state of emergency declared by the Italian authorities last year due to ongoing severe drought. Further thunderstorms are expected for Italy over the next few weeks.”
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