Landslides in Portugal claim 40 lives

A street with vehicles is engulfed by heavy flooding in downtown Funchal, Madeira. (REUTERS)

The death toll from mudslides and flash flooding on the Portuguese island of Madeira has risen again to 40 people as the government rushed emergency aid to the resort haven.

Authorities say more than 120 others are injured and an unknown number are missing. Regional social services spokesman Francisco Ramos told a press conference yesterday that some people had not yet been accounted for after heavy rain lashed the island on Saturday, turning some streets in the capital of Funchal into raging rivers of mud, water and debris.

Ramos said that given the circumstances of the flood, it was likely that the death toll could increase.

The heavy rain also displaced 250 people.

Prime Minister Jose Socrates said he was "profoundly shocked" by the severity of the mudslides.

Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates promised "all necessary aid".

An official said one village, Curral das Freiras, was still cut off and could only be contacted by radio.

"We know there are some victims there, not a high number, but we will only know the details when rescuers reach the village later today," he said.

 

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