At least one person is dead and a dozen others are missing after a landslide caused by torrential rains on Saturday November 26 on the island of Ischia, in southern Italy.

According to the prefect of Naples, the nearest large city to the island, the heavy rains washed away several homes.

In the early morning, a wave of mud and debris devastated the small town of Casamicciola Terme in the north of the island, submerging at least one house and carrying cars towards the sea, according to Italian media and the emergency services. .

The first victim is a woman whose body was found by rescuers, announced the prefect of Naples, Claudio Palomba, during a press conference.

Some of those initially missing were later found safe and sound, including a family with a newborn baby, the prefect said.

But we had no news of a dozen people in the middle of the afternoon, according to the manager.

Search operations are complicated by persistent rain and strong winds, which have also delayed the delivery of reinforcements by ferry from the mainland.

Confusing initial assessment

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi earlier said several people were stuck in the mud, citing a "very serious" situation.

He had nevertheless denied the assertions of his colleague, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure Matteo Salvini, who had given a death toll of eight.

"At this precise moment, no death has been confirmed," added Matteo Piantedosi, while pointing out that the situation could still evolve.

This before the speech of the prefect of Naples who announced the first victim.

Disaster-scarred spa resort

Casamicciola Terme, a winter spa town of 8,000 on the lush island of Ischia, near Capri,

suffered an earthquake in 2017 that left two people dead


However, it had been completely destroyed by a much more powerful earthquake at the end of the 19th century.

The landslide sent torrents of mud onto the streets which overturned trees and swept away and dented vehicles there, sometimes to the sea, according to images from the emergency services and local media.

The landslide "buried a house" and two people were rescued from a car that had been thrown into the sea, the fire department said.

Complicated rescue operations

At least 30 families are trapped in their homes by mud, without water or electricity, ANSA news agency said, adding that the road leading to their neighborhood was cut off by the mudslide and debris.

The emergency services then explained that they hoped to evacuate 150 to 200 people by Saturday evening to temporary accommodation.

"Rescue operations remain complicated because of the weather conditions," according to the civil protection department, but the search will continue throughout the night thanks to searchlights.

Local authorities have urged residents of the island to stay at home, so as not to interfere with rescue operations.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said she was following the situation, offering her thoughts to those affected by the disaster.

This comes a few weeks after the death of 11 people in floods due to heavy rains in central-eastern Italy.

Oggi alla Protezione civile per aggiornamenti e rimanere in contact with the sedi operative che stanno prstando soccorso a Ischia.

Rinnovo nostra gratitudine per le istituzioni che si sono immediatamente mobilitate e per gli eroici soccorritori che stanno aiutando le popolazioni.

— Giorgia Meloni (@GiorgiaMeloni) November 26, 2022

(With AFP)

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