Rescue teams dug through mud for the second day in a row on Sunday to search for a dozen people missing after a massive landslide on the Italian resort island of Ischia.
A body was recovered on Saturday and a dozen people, including children, were reported missing in the port city of Casamicciola, who are feared to have died entombed by mud and debris that firefighters said was twenty feet high ( 20 feet) tall in some places.
Small excavators were being used to remove rubble and Italian media said excavation was continuing by hand in some places. They added that diving teams had also been brought in.
“We continue the search with a broken heart, because among the missing there are also minors,” Giacomo Pascale, mayor of the neighboring town of Lacco Ameno, told RAI state television.
The massive landslide before dawn on Saturday was triggered by exceptional rainfall. A mass of mud and debris plunged down the side of a mountain toward the port of Casamicciola, collapsing buildings and dragging vehicles into the sea. As of Sunday, 164 people had been left homeless.
Widely released video showed a man, covered in mud, clinging to a blind, his chest submerged in muddy water.
The island received 126 millimeters (nearly five inches) of rain in six hours, the heaviest rainfall in 20 years, according to authorities. Experts said the disaster was compounded by construction in high-risk areas of the mountainous island.
“There is territory in which you cannot build. You cannot change the use of an area where there is water. The course of the water created this disaster”, said the geologist Riccardo Caniparoli to RAI. “There are norms and laws that were not respected.”
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni called a cabinet meeting on Sunday and declared 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 who are searching for the victims,” Meloni said in a statement.
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