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LANDSLIDE

Italy declares state of emergency after deadly Ischia landslide

Italy's government declared a state of emergency on Sunday after a landslide on the southern island of Ischia killed at least seven people.

Italy declares state of emergency after deadly Ischia landslide
People outside a damaged restaurant in Casamicciola. Photo by Eliano IMPERATO / AFP

Italian media reported again on Monday morning that eight people had been killed in a landslide on Saturday on the island of Ischia, despite earlier statements from Italy’s interior minister insisting the number had not been confirmed.

Seven deaths were confirmed by local authorities late on Sunday night.

“The toll of victims from the landslide in Casamicciola has risen to seven dead, while five are missing,” Naples city prefect Claudio Palomba announced.

A wave of mud and debris hit the small town of Casamicciola Terme early Saturday morning, engulfing at least one house and sweeping cars down to the sea, local media and emergency services said.

The government released an initial €2 million in relief funds at the end of a cabinet meeting which declared the state of emergency, said Minister for Civil Protection Nello Musumeci.

More than 200 rescuers 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.

Wreckage of cars and buses crushed by the mudslide could be seen and boulders were scattered around as excavators sought to free up access to homes, cars and shops.

The rescue effort was hampered by rain and high winds, which also delayed ferries bringing reinforcements from the mainland.

Photo by ELIANO IMPERATO / AFP

“It’s a situation that hurts us, if only for the people who disappeared under the mountain. Here it’s an island and even if we don’t really know everyone, it’s almost that,” Salvatore Lorini, 45, told AFP.

“The mountain came down, there was devastation of shops, cars, hotels and that was already happening nine years ago. Now I am cleaning my mother-in-law’s shop,” he said.

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.

Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi had earlier warned there were people trapped in the mud, saying it was a “very serious” situation. However, he denied a statement by his colleague Matteo Salvini, the deputy prime minister and infrastructure minister, that eight people had died, saying this had not been confirmed.

Photo by ELIANO IMPERATO / AFP

Officials had said they expected to evacuate and find temporary homes for between 150 and 200 people.

Local authorities called on residents of Ischia to stay inside to avoid hindering the rescue operation.

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. 

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LANDSLIDE

Ischia landslide death toll rises to 12 as last missing person found

Rescuers in Ischia recovered the body of the last missing person on Tuesday, bringing the landslide’s death toll to 12.

Ischia landslide death toll rises to 12 as last missing person found

The Italian fire service announced on Tuesday that the body of the last missing person had been found, and released a picture of rescuers at work in an area of mud and debris still strewn with personal belongings.

Italian medianamed the last victim as 31-year-old Maria Teresa Arcamone, a waitress in a popular bar in Forio on the eastern part of the island. 

According to Ansa, Arcamone was found in the Rarone car park, where most of the debris piled up during the landslide. 

Arcamone’s in-laws Maurizio and Giovanna and her baby nephew, Giovangiuseppe, were also killed by the landslide, Ansa reported.

A wave of mud and debris swept through the small town of Casamicciola Terme on Saturday, November 26th following heavy rains, destroying houses and sweeping cars down to the sea.

READ ALSO: Landslides and earthquakes: Why Ischia – and most of Italy – is at risk

As of Tuesday many Ischia residents were reportedly still staying in hotels, awaiting the go-ahead to return home.

Geologists have already warned that bad weather risks causing further landslides on some parts of the island, which sits near Capri and is crowded with tourists over the summer.

Last Friday, authorities evacuated over 1,000 people from at-risk areas following a heavy rain alert.

Experts said the disaster was caused by a fatal mix of deforestation, overdevelopment and a lack of mitigation strategies.

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