Madeira storm kills at least 42

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

42 people are reported dead and more than 120 are reported injured on the Portuguese island of Madeira after severe rainstorms triggered floods and mudslides. There are still people missing, and authorities say that the death toll will likely rise further. The worst affected area of the island is the southern coast, including the largest city, Funchal.

According to an eyewitness, the infrastructure of the area was "decimated" by the flooding; water flooded down streets, leaving debris in its wake and destroying roads and bridges. In some localities, residents were evacuated, and services such as power and telephone lines have been severely disrupted. Emergency services have been hampered by the damage, and rescue crews are still unable to reach some mountainous regions. The storms have left hundreds of people homeless, in addition to the dead and injured.

The government is considering declaring a state of emergency on the island, and local authorities have authorized relief supplies such as temporary housing for the homeless. Prime minister Jose Socrates has issued a statement saying "I am absolutely saddened and shocked with the images [from the scene], [and] with the consequences of this calamity." He is expected to travel to Madeira sometime soon to inspect the damage and co-ordinate relief efforts. The Portuguese military has already sent rescue teams to the area to aid in the recovery efforts, and the Spanish government has offered assistance.


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