One person is dead and up to a dozen are missing after heavy rainfall left a port town on Ischia under meters of mud A man walks past a damaged vehicle on the island of Ischia, Italy, November 26, 2022 © AFP / Ciro Fusco

One death has been confirmed and up to a dozen people are missing after a landslide struck the Italian island of Ischia on Saturday. With vehicles swept away by six meters of earth, officials initially feared a higher death toll.

“Currently the confirmed death toll is one, a woman. Eight missing persons have been found, including a child, and there still are around ten missing,” the prefect of Naples, Claudio Palomba, told a news conference, Reuters reported.

Situated off Italy’s Mediterranean coast in the Gulf of Naples, the island of Ischia received more than 12cm (5 inches) of rainfall in six hours overnight. The precipitation washed six to seven meters of mud and debris down the side of the island’s volcanic mountain ridge, washing cars and buses into the sea at the port of Casamicciola.

At least ten buildings collapsed, Italy’s ANSA news agency reported. Local officials advised those trapped by the mud to remain at home, as rescue efforts continued into Saturday evening.

The initial death toll was feared higher, with Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini announcing on Saturday morning that eight people had been confirmed dead. However, Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi stated shortly afterwards that no deaths had been confirmed at that time, but 10-12 people were missing.

Ischia is densely populated and is a popular tourist destination. Visitors flock there from the Italian mainland for its beaches and thermal spas, which are fed by volcanic springs. Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the island almost every year during her four terms in office.

A 4.0-magnitude earthquake on the island in 2017 killed two people and damaged property in Casamicciola and neighboring Lacco Ameno.

(RT)