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One dead, others still missing in landslide on Italian island

 

AFP

 

ROME — One woman died and other people were still missing on Saturday after heavy rains caused a landslide on the Italian island of Ischia, a local official said.
 
A wave of mud and debris swept through the small town of Casamicciola Terme in the early hours of the morning, engulfing at least one house and sweeping cars down to the sea, media reports and emergency services said.
 
The first victim was confirmed to be a woman whose body was found by rescuers, according to a media briefing by the prefect of Naples, Claudio Palomba.
 
He said some of those reported missing earlier were later found safe, including one family with a newborn baby, but around 10 other people were still unaccounted for mid-afternoon.
 
The rescue effort was hampered by continued rain and high winds, which also delayed ferries bringing reinforcements from the mainland.
 
Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi had earlier warned there were people trapped in the mud, saying it was a "very serious" situation.
 
However, he denied a statement by his colleague Matteo Salvini, the deputy prime minister and infrastructure minister, that eight people had died, saying this had not been confirmed.
 
Complex rescue operation 
 
The heavy rain sent torrents of mud through the streets of Casamicciola Terme, on the north of Ischia, a lush island located near Capri that is thronged with tourists in the summer months.
 
Trees were upturned and cars left battered on the side of the road or in the water, according to images published by emergency services and local media.
 
The fire service earlier said one house had been overwhelmed by the mud and that two people had been rescued from a car swept into the sea.
 
In the worst affected area of Casamicciola Terme, at least 30 families were trapped in their homes without water or electricity, with mud and debris blocking the road, the ANSA news agency reported.
 
Officials later said they expected to evacuate and find temporary homes for between 150 and 200 people by Saturday evening.
 
“The rescue effort remains complex due to the weather conditions,” said the department for civil protection, but stressed teams would keep working through the night using headlights.
 
Local authorities have called on residents of Ischia to stay inside so as not to hinder the rescue operation.
 
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said she was following the situation, offering her thoughts to those affected.
 
Casamicciola Terme was hit by an earthquake in 2017, in which two people died.
 
The devastation in Ischia came just weeks after 11 people died in heavy rain and flooding in central eastern Italy.
 

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