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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Landslide leaves up to a dozen missing on Italy’s Ischia island

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Torrential rain triggered landslides on the southern Italian island of Ischia early Saturday morning, leaving as many as 12 people missing as it cut a muddy swath through a port town, collapsing buildings and sweeping cars into the sea.

Italy’s interior minister said no deaths have been confirmed, which appears to contradict an early announcement by another senior official.

“At the moment there are no confirmed deaths,” Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi said from the fire brigade’s emergency coordination center.

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who is also the infrastructure minister, had previously said eight deaths had been confirmed while speaking to reporters at the opening of a metro extension in Milan.

The prefect for the region of Naples, which includes Ischia, said at least 12 people are missing. Claudio Palomba was also quoted by Italian media as saying no deaths had been confirmed.

The force of the mud sliding down the mountainsides was strong enough to send cars and buses into the sea at the port of Casamicciola, on the north side of the island. Streets were impassable and mayors on the island urged people to stay home. At least 100 people are stranded.

The ANSA news agency reported that at least 10 buildings had collapsed. A family with a newborn baby previously reported missing was located and received medical care, the prefect of Naples said.

Firefighters and the Coast Guard were engaged in rescue efforts. Reinforcements arrived by ferry, including teams of sniffer dogs to aid the search effort.

The densely populated mountainous island is a popular tourist destination for both its beaches and spas. A magnitude 4.0 earthquake on the island in 2017 killed two people and caused significant damage to the towns of Casamicciola and neighboring Lacco Ameno.

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