Madeira counts the cost of violent floods

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Madeira counts the cost of violent floods

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A huge clean-up operation is underway on the holiday island of Madeira after Saturday’s torrential rain caused flooding and devastating mudslides.

At least 42 people have died and officials fear more bodies may have been washed away into the ocean after the deluge. Three days of mourning have been declared.

Portugal is dispatching emergency aid to the autonomous region in the Atlantic including divers to search for people still missing.

The flash floods were so powerful they carved paths down mountains and ripped through the capital Funchal.

In a remote mountain village one woman lost nearly all the members of her family. Maria da Conceição was clearly shocked when she explained what had happened to her.

“My mother, my sister, my nephews… Only one escaped. I heard that someone had found my sister-in-law’s body down there with another body. I don’t know if it’s my brother’s body or not.”

Officials say over 250 people were forced to flee their homes for temporary shelters – some are being put up in local military barracks. Many roads in Madeira were partially destroyed or blocked with rocks, trees and mud.

Lisbon has said it will earmark funds to help with the job that lies ahead of rebuilding some of the island’s infrastructure.