Formula One's Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix cancelled

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Formula One has cancelled the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix scheduled for the weekend, saying heavy rain and flooding didn't make it possible to safely hold the event.

Torrential rain and flooding has hit the northern Italian Emilia Romagna region, where the Imola race course is located.

At least five people have died and others are missing, according to Italian minister for civil defence, Nello Musumeci.

The paddock at the track was evacuated on Tuesday because of fears of flooding and teams were advised not to enter the premises on Wednesday.

"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," F1 said.

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

F1 said it was decided to cancel the race after discussions with the ruling body FIA, the race promoter as well as Italian ministers and regional authorities including the mayor of Imola.

"The decision that has been taken is the right one for everyone in the local communities and the F1 family as we need to ensure safety and not create extra burden for the authorities while they deal with this very awful situation," F1 boss Stefano Domenicali said.

"It is such a tragedy to see what has happened to Imola and Emilia-Romagna, the town and region that I grew up in, and my thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the flooding and the families and communities affected."

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem said: "My thoughts and those of the entire FIA family are with those affected by the terrible situation in the Emilia Romagna region. The safety of everyone involved and recovery efforts are the top priority at this time."

Italian vice-premier Matteo Salvini, the nation's infrastructure and transport minister, had earlier in the day called for the race cancellation because an effort from all authorities was needed to fight the elements and that an overload of visitors and cars going to the race had to be avoided.

The evacuation Tuesday had already led to a delay of preparations for the race weekend which would have started with two practice sessions on Friday.

The Imola race track is near the factories of the Ferrari and Alpha Tauri F1 teams.

"Our thoughts and sympathies are with the people of Emilia-Romagna and Marche as they deal with the destruction caused by the heavy rain and flooding currently affecting the area," Ferrari tweeted.

Alpha Tauri said their factory was not affected "and everything is being done to ensure the safety and of our employees and their families.

"Our sympathies go out to all those affected and we continue to monitor the situation, to see what can be done to help those in need as we await further developments," Alpha Tauri said.