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Italy calls off Formula One Grand Prix in Imola due to floods

Death toll from floods in northern Italy rises to nine.

This weekend's Formula One Grand Prix in Imola has been called off due to severe flooding in Italy's northern Emilia-Romagna region where at least nine people have died and several are missing.

Formula One said the decision was 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."

The statement from Formula One concluded that "it would not be right to put further pressure on the local authorities and emergency services at this difficult time."

The decision was announced shortly after Italy's deputy premier and transport minister Matteo Salvini called for the race to be suspended to "concentrate all efforts on dealing with the emergency" and to avoid other problems such as an overload of traffic.

Over the past 24 hours thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes in Faenza, Cesena and Forli - not far from the Imola race site - with local residents urged not to leave their homes and to move to higher floors.

The flooding in Emilia-Romagna - which comes just two weeks after the region was battered by extreme weather causing two fatalities - has led to the closure of schools and suspension of some rail services.

Photo RAI News

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