Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Is Carla Bruni against a political comeback for Sarkozy?

Read more

DEBATE

Clone of Pakistan Protests: Democracy put the test (Part Two)

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan Protests: Democracy put the test (Part One)

Read more

ENCORE!

The French Maestro of Soul

Read more

FOCUS

US tobacco giants want lion's share of e-cigarette business

Read more

ENCORE!

Bold and bonkers: Kate Bush is back on stage

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Simon Serfaty, US foreign policy specialist

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'It's a War, Stupid!'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

French PM calls on ECB to go further to help economy

Read more

  • UN backs inquiry of IS group’s alleged crimes in Iraq

    Read more

  • French education ministry picture sparks racist abuse

    Read more

  • Obama calls for higher wages amid 'revving' US economy

    Read more

  • Video: Ukraine’s children return to school as fighting rages on

    Read more

  • Americans detained in North Korea call for US help

    Read more

  • US urges Israel to reverse West Bank land seizure

    Read more

  • Lesotho PM calls for regional peacekeeping force after ‘coup’

    Read more

  • Ukrainian forces retreat from Luhansk airport after clashes

    Read more

  • Teddy Riner, France’s unstoppable judo champion

    Read more

  • Death toll rises in Paris apartment building blast

    Read more

  • Iraqi forces free Amerli in biggest victory over IS militants since June

    Read more

  • French police arrest hungry hedgehog hunters

    Read more

  • Tripoli under control of militias, says government

    Read more

  • Monaco’s Falcao set for Man Utd loan on transfer deadline day

    Read more

  • Spain orders custody for parents of ill British boy

    Read more

  • Web doc on French self-immolation protests takes top prize

    Read more

Europe

Rescuers press on with search in flood-hit Madeira

Video by Rebecca BOWRING

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-02-23

At least 42 people have died in floods and mudslides caused by torrential rain on the Portuguese island of Madeira. Britain's Foreign Office said a Briton was among those killed, the first confirmed death of a foreign national.

AFP - Emergency workers on Portugal's island of Madeira will press on with rescue work Monday after the flash flooding that killed at least 42 people, but have warned that the toll will likely rise.
   
Troops and other rescue workers spent Sunday digging through mud-filled houses and streets after the flash floods' torrents of brown water swept some people to their death, demolished houses and overturned cars.
   
The government in Lisbon has rushed medical teams, rescue teams including divers and sniffer dogs and relief supplies to the Atlantic island.
   
And the country's cabinet is expected to announce three days of national mourning at a special meeting Monday in Lisbon, government sources said.
   
Morgue pathologists on Madeira meanwhile sent a grim warning that more bodies would be found in the mud that swept people off their feet as they tried to escape.
   
And in Madeira's main city, Funchal, mayor Miguel Albuquerque told reporters: "It is very probable that we will find more bodies."
   
The heavy rains ended Sunday, revealing scenes of devastation in the capital, Funchal, with cars overturned and roofs ripped off buildings.
   
Power and telephone lines were torn down but flights to the international airport restarted from the Portuguese mainland, 900 kilometres (560 miles) to the northeast.
   
The disruption to phone lines had made it difficult to establish how many people needed to be rescued because many of them just could not be contacted, Madeira's social issues affairs secretary Francisco Ramos told reporters.
   
The regional government gave a new toll of at least 42 dead and more than 120 people injured, including a few British nationals.
   
Late Sunday Britain's Foreign Office said one Briton was among those killed, the first confirmed death of a foreign national in the disaster.
   
A shopping centre in Funchal was completely destroyed and firefighters feared there were likely people trapped in an underground parking lot which was still under water.
   
A morgue has been set up at the airport, where one local official said they had not yet been able to identify all the bodies.
   
At the height of the storm, the authorities put out emergency messages urging people not to risk their lives by venturing out into the torrents of muddy water that poured down the hillsides and out of alleys.
   
Winds exceeding 100 kilometres (60 miles) an hour, high seas and blocked roads made rescue attempts even more dangerous for emergency services.
   
The mud filled some homes up to the second floor and the rescue teams from mainland Portugal were put to work clearing out the stricken buildings.
   
Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates went to Funchal on Saturday night and promised "all necessary aid" to help Madeira recover from the disaster.
   
Football star Cristiano Ronaldo, Madeira's most famous native, expressed shock and promised help for relief efforts.
   
"It is a huge catastrophe, a tragedy without precedent," said the world's most expensive footballer, who was born in a poor district of Funchal.
   
"No-one can remain indifferent to a calamity of such huge proportions, least of all me who was born and grew up in Madeira."
   
The damage was concentrated around Funchal and the Ribeira Brava region, both on the south of the island.
   
The Portuguese naval frigate Corte-Real set off from Lisbon for Madeira late Saturday with helicopters, a medical team and relief supplies, a military statement said.
   
The head of the regional government held talks late Saturday with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in a bid to get EU aid.
   
Neighbouring Spain and its Canary Islands have also offered to send aid.
   
Officials on the island have opened a military garrison to house about 100 of the 250 people left homeless.
   
Officials evacuated the lower part of Funchal, which has 100,000 of the 250,000 who live on Madeira.
   
Portuguese media said the storms were the deadliest in Madeira since October 1993, when eight people died. Socrates expressed shock at the deaths and promised support for the islanders.

 

Date created : 2010-02-21

  • PORTUGAL

    Heavy rains and mudslides kill at least 38 on Madeira island

    Read more

  • PERU

    1400 tourists rescued amid Machu Picchu floods

    Read more

COMMENT(S)