Italian rescuers search for missing in island landslide
MILANO– Rescuers dug through mud for a second day on Sunday in search of people lost in a massive landslide on the Italian resort island of Ischia.
A body was found on Saturday and a dozen people, including children, were reported missing in the port town of Casamicciola, fearing they were buried under mud and debris that firefighters said were six meters away ( 20 feet) deep in some places. Small bulldozers were being used to clean up the debris, and Italian media said excavations were continuing by hand in some places and teams of divers had been brought in.
“We are continuing the search with a broken heart, because among the missing there are also minors,” Giacomo Pascale, the mayor of the neighboring town of Lacco Ameno, told RAI public television.
The massive landslide before dawn on Saturday was triggered by exceptional rainfall and sent a mass of mud and debris rolling down a mountain towards the port of Casamicciola, collapsing buildings and dragging vehicles into the sea. 164 people were left homeless due to the events.
A widely circulated video showed a man, covered in mud, clinging to a shutter, chest deep in muddy water.
The island received 126 millimeters (nearly five inches) of rain in six hours, the heaviest rainfall in 20 years, officials said. Experts said the disaster had been exacerbated by construction in high-risk areas on the mountainous island.
“There is a territory that cannot be occupied. You cannot change the use of an area where there is water. The course of the water created this disaster,” geologist Riccardo Caniparoli told RAI. “There are standards and laws that have not been respected.”
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni called a Cabinet meeting on Sunday to declare a state of emergency on the island. “The government expresses its closeness to the citizens, mayors and towns of the island of Ischia and thanks the rescuers searching for the victims,” Meloni said in a statement.