At least 38 people are now known to have died in violent floods and mudslides on the Portuguese island of Madeira.
More than 100 others are injured and, with several areas still inaccessible to rescue teams, the number of victims could rise yet further.
Severe rainstorms triggered the holiday destination’s worst natural disaster in 100 years. It has left some 250 people homeless and has terrified tourists whose dreams of winter sun have been washed away.
The leader of the regional government insisted “there had been no serious incident involving the tourism sector.”
“We should not dramatise the situation,” added Alberto João Jardim. “We should not forget that our economy is highly dependent on the outside. Let’s try to solve the problems internally.”
Portugal is dispatching emergency aid to the autonomous region around 1,000 kilometres away in the Atlantic. Help includes a navy ship with helicopters and medical equipment.
The clean-up will take some time, with bridges washed away, trees felled and roads blocked by rocks and mud. And, while no further flash floods are expected, meteorologists say the amount of rainfall on Saturday exceeded the monthly average.