Grand Prix weekend in Imola called off as killer floods hit Italy and Croatia leaving at least four dead

17 May 2023, 12:36 | Updated: 17 May 2023, 13:26

At least four people have died after devastating floods hit Italy and Croatia
At least four people have died after devastating floods hit Italy and Croatia. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

The Emilia Romagna F1 Grand Prix has been cancelled due to heavy rain in Imola making it "not possible to safely hold the event", Formula One has announced as devastating floods hit Italy and Croatia.

An F1 statement read: "The Formula One community wants to send its thoughts to the people and communities affected by the recent events in the Emilia-Romagna region.

"We also want to pay tribute to the work of the emergency services who are doing everything they can to help those in need.

"Following discussions between Formula One, the president of the FIA, the competent authorities including the relevant ministers, the president of the Automobile Club of Italy, the president of Emilia Romagna region, the mayor of the city and the promoter, the decision has been taken not to proceed with the Grand Prix weekend in Imola.

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"The decision has been taken because it is not possible to safely hold the event for our fans, the teams and our personnel and it is the right and responsible thing to do given the situation faced by the towns and cities in the region.

"It would not be right to put further pressure on the local authorities and emergency services at this difficult time."

Residents in northern Italy have been told to get to higher ground amid fears rain-swollen rivers will again burst their banks.

The warning from officials comes after flooding killed at least three people and forced the evacuation of 5,000.

Sandbags are lined up along a flooded street in downtown Bologna
Sandbags are lined up along a flooded street in downtown Bologna. Picture: Alamy

The mayor of the city of Cesena, Enzo Lattuca, posted a video to Facebook early on Wednesday to say continued heavy rains in the Emilia-Romagna region could again flood the Savio river and smaller tributaries.

He urged residents to move to upper floors of their homes and avoid riverbanks, and announced the closure to traffic of some bridges and streets after heavy flooding sent rivers of mud sloshing through town.

"The situation could again become critical," he said.

Flooding puts the city to the test with waves 5 m high and overflowing rivers in Rimini, Italy
Flooding puts the city to the test with waves 5 m high and overflowing rivers in Rimini, Italy. Picture: Alamy

"We cannot in any way lower our guard."

Civil protection minister Nello Musemeci confirmed the deaths of three people.

The deputy chief of the agency, Titti Postiglione, said the rescue operation for those needing emergency evacuations was particularly difficult given so many roads and routes were flooded.

Speaking on Sky TG24, she said the affected flood zone covered a broad swath of four provinces which, until the heavy rains, had been parched by a prolonged drought.

Premier Giorgia Meloni said the government is monitoring the situation and "is ready to intervene with necessary help".

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