Death Toll Rises After Mudslides on Island

Victims include a 3-week-old boy swept away, officials say
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 26, 2022 12:20 PM CST
Updated Nov 27, 2022 3:10 PM CST
Crews Search for Victims of Resort Island Mudslide
Rescuers remove mud from a street after heavy rainfall triggered landslides that collapsed buildings and left as many as 12 people missing, in Casamicciola, on the southern Italian island of Ischia, Italy, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022. Firefighters are working on rescue efforts as reinforcements are being...   (AP Photo/Salvatore Laporta)
UPDATE Nov 27, 2022 3:10 PM CST

Rescuers have recovered the bodies of seven victims, including a 3-week-old infant and a pair of young siblings, buried during mudslides early Saturday in a port city on the Italian island of Ischia. Officials on Sunday said the victims include the infant boy's parents, a 5-year-old girl and her 11-year-old brother, a 31-year-old island resident, and a Bulgarian tourist, the AP reports. Crews are looking for the five people still missing. "Our teams are searching with hope, even if it is very difficult," a spokesman for firefighters said. Experts criticized development in risky places.

Nov 26, 2022 12:20 PM CST

Heavy rainfall triggered a massive landslide early Saturday on the southern Italian resort island of Ischia that destroyed buildings and swept parked cars into the sea, leaving at least one person dead and up to 12 missing. With rain continuing to fall, rescuers were working gingerly with small bulldozers to pick through some six to seven yards of mud and detritus in the search for possible victims. Reinforcements arrived by ferry, including teams of sniffer dogs to help the search efforts, the AP reports. The body of a woman was pulled from the mud, Naples prefect Claudio Palomba, told a news conference.

The force of the mud sliding down the mountainside just before dawn was strong enough to send cars and buses onto beaches and into the sea at the port of Casamicciola, on the north end of the island, which lies off Naples. The island received nearly five inches of rain in six hours, the heaviest rainfall in 20 years, officials said. Streets were impassable, and mayors on the island urged people to stay home. At least 100 people were reported stranded without electricity and water, and about 70 were housed in a community gymnasium. There was early confusion over the death toll. Vice Premier Matteo Salvini initially said that eight people had been confirmed dead, followed by the interior minister saying that no deaths had yet been confirmed, while 10 to 12 were missing.

"The situation is very complicated and very serious because probably some of those people are under the mud," Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi told RAI state TV from an emergency command center in Rome. ANSA reported that at least 10 buildings had collapsed. Video from the island showed small bulldozers clearing roads, while residents used hoses to try to get mud out of their homes. One man told Sky TG24 that mud overwhelmed three adjacent shops that he owns, completely wiping out his inventory. He estimated damage at more than $100,000. Firefighters and the Coast Guard were conducting search and rescue operations, initially hampered by strong winds that prevented helicopters and boats from reaching the island.

(Read more mudslide stories.)

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