Italian Rescuers Hunt for Missing People Following an Island Disaster


AP — MILAN, Italy On the Italian island of Ischia, where people go on vacation, rescuers dug through the mud for the second day on Sunday to look for people who may have been lost in a big landslide.

On Saturday, one person was found, and two families with children were still among the 11 people missing in Casamicciola. Firefighters think that some of them are buried in mud and debris six meters (20 feet) deep.

“Mud and water tend to cover everything,” an Italian firefighter’s spokeswoman told RAI state television. “Our teams search with hope, even though it’s a hard job.” “Our best hope is that those who are listed as missing have gone to stay with family or friends but haven’t told us where they are,” he said.

He said that there was still a chance of landslides in the upper parts of the town, so search crews had to go on foot to get there. Small bulldozers worked all night to clear the roads so that rescue vehicles could get through. Divers were called in to check on cars that had been pushed into the water.

Giacomo Pascale, the mayor of nearby Lacco Ameno, told RAI, “We continue the search with our hearts broken because some of the missing are children.” During the usual Sunday blessing in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis showed his love for the people of Ischia.

He said, “I’m praying for the people who were hurt, for those who are in pain, and for those who are helping with the rescue.”

Italian Rescuers Hunt for Missing People Following an Island Disaster

The prefect of Naples, Claudio Palomba, told the LaPresse news agency on Sunday that 11 people were still missing, four people were hurt, and 160 people had to leave their homes. He said that 15 homes had been destroyed by the mudslide.

The big landslide happened before dawn on Saturday. It sent a mass of mud and rocks hurtling down a mountainside toward the port of Casamicciola, destroying buildings and sending cars into the sea. On Sunday, 164 people were without homes because of what had happened.

One video that got a lot of attention showed a man covered in mud and up to his chest in muddy water while holding on to a shutter. Officials say that 126 millimeters (almost five inches) of rain fell in six hours on the island. This was the most rain in 20 years. Experts say that building in high-risk areas of the mountainous island made the disaster even worse.

“There are places that can’t be lived on.” You can’t change how a zone with water is used. Riccardo Caniparoli, a geologist, told RAI that the path of the water was to blame for this disaster. “There are laws and agreements that haven’t been followed.”

Giorgia Meloni, the prime minister of Italy, has called a Cabinet meeting for Sunday evening to declare a state of emergency on the island. Meloni said in a statement, “The government shows its support for the people, mayors, and towns of Ischia and thanks the rescue workers who are looking for the missing.”

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