Ischia mudslide: Eight dead and four missing after torrents of mud sweep through Italian town
Grief, dismay and still many questions are up in the air following a landslide that left at least eight dead and four missing on the Italian island of Ischia. A wave of mud and debris caused by heavy rain devastated the small town of Casamicciola Terme in the north of the island, situated off the coast from Naples, early Saturday morning, 26 November 2022. Among the dead are two children and a newborn baby. The Italian press also reported that 13 people were injured. Rescue work continued on Monday with teams having to remove tons of mud to access the interior of several houses.
More than 250 rescuers including fire fighters, local officials, police, civil protection and volunteers, are still searching for a dozen missing people, while hundreds of volunteers and others, up to their knees in mud, are busy cleaning the streets of the town. Drones, digging equipment and sniffer dogs have also been deployed. Divers were searching the wreckage of the numerous vehicles swept into the sea.
Houses in northern parts of the island were damaged or destroyed as a torrent of mud, flood water and debris crashed down slopes of Mount Epomeo. Some areas were under mud and debris several metres deep. Dozens of vehicles were swept into the sea in areas of Casamicciola Terme.
Wreckage of cars and busses crushed by the mudslide could be seen and boulders were scattered around as excavators sought to free up access to homes, cars and shops.
Rescuers had recovered the body of a 31-year-old woman, according to Italian news agency AGI.
Search operations have been complicated by persistent rain and strong winds, which have also delayed the arrival of reinforcements by ferry from the mainland.
President of the Region of Campania, President Vincenzo De Luca, said at least 150 families are unable to return to their homes. The regional government has requested the declaration of a state of emergency.
Italy's government declared a state of emergency on Sunday. A first tranche of two million euros relief funds was released at the end of an emergency cabinet meeting, which declared the state of emergency, said Minister for Civil Protection Nello Musumeci.
The landslide was caused by a lack of maintenance and prevention "because nature is nature, there was an earthquake, but a bit of prevention" could have saved lives, said Lorini.
The peninsula, off Naples, is no stranger to states of emergency following earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or severe weather.
Casamicciola Terme, a spa resort of 8 000 inhabitants in winter on the lush island of Ischia, near Capri, was hit by an earthquake in 2017 that killed two people. It was completely destroyed by a much more powerful earthquake at the end of the 19th Century.
Sources: Euro News, Floodlist