- By Jaroslav Lukiv
- BBC news
Officials say eight people have died and several are missing after heavy rains caused flooding in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy.
About 10,000 people were evacuated and some were rescued from rooftops by helicopter.
Authorities say 14 rivers have burst their banks, flooding 23 towns. The mayor of Ravenna said his city is now “unrecognizable”.
Emilia-Romagna F1 Grand Prix this weekend has now been cancelled.
Discussions on Wednesday between the local government and the race organizers at Imola concluded that the event could not continue.
Further rain is expected in the area in the coming days.
“It was probably the worst night in the history of Romagna,” Ravenna Mayor Michele de Pascale told Italian broadcaster RAI. “Ravenna is unrecognizable because of the damage it has suffered.”
The mayor of nearby Forli, Gian Luca Zattini, said his city was “on its knees, devastated and in pain”, AFP news agency reported.
In the city of Cesena, people climbed onto rooftops and waited for helicopters or boats to come to their rescue.
In Castel Bolognese, the mayor said the situation was “catastrophic”, BBC correspondent Sofia Bettiza in Italy reports. The mayor added that thousands of people living in single-story homes need to be rescued.
There is no electricity in town at the moment, our correspondent adds. People are sheltering in gyms and schools across Emilia-Romagna.
Regional President Stefano Bonaccini urged residents not to go near rivers. “People living near water should move to higher floors,” he wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni chaired a crisis meeting with civil protection officials.
In some areas, it was not possible to measure rainfall because it exceeded what their equipment could record.
BBC weather presenter Chris Fawkes says Northern Italy has turned from severe drought to torrential rain, with the latest cataclysm caused by Cyclone Minerva.
He added: “The area also experienced torrential rain early in the month leading to flooding and this will leave the soil saturated, making it less likely to absorb water during this latest heavy downpour.”
“This is in stark contrast to the state of emergency declared by the Italian authorities last year due to an ongoing severe drought. Thunderstorms are expected to continue in Italy over the next few weeks. “
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