Languages
Page last updated at 12:40 GMT, Sunday, 21 February 2010

Portugal rushes aid to Madeira after deadly floods

Advertisement

Amateur video of the flash floods hitting Madeira

The Portuguese military has sent specialist rescue teams to the island of Madeira, where at least 40 people are known to have died in rainstorms.

Tonnes of mud and stones were brought down the slopes of the island, flooding the streets of the regional capital, Funchal, and other towns.

Officials fear the death toll could rise. Water, power and phones were cut in some areas.

PM Jose Socrates, who is in Madeira, said he would "do everything to help".

A Portuguese Navy ship, with a helicopter and medical equipment, has departed for Madeira - which is located about 900km (560miles) from the Portuguese mainland and is popular with foreign tourists.

Debris left behind in Funchal by the flash floods

Officials say the extra emergency teams being sent include 56 military rescuers with search dogs and 36 firefighters.

Interior Minister Rui Pereira, who has also flown to the island, said forensic experts would conduct post-mortem examinations to allow funerals to take place soon.

He added: "We are studying the possibility of declaring a state of emergency and then seeking help from the European Union."

Funchal was among the worst affected areas by Saturday's floods and mudslides.

Television pictures showed muddy torrents coursing down narrow channels and spilling over the sides, roads awash with water and streets littered with debris.

'Ghost town'

Trees have been brought down and cars swept away, blocking roads and hampering relief teams. Some bridges and roads have been washed away.

MADEIRA FACTS
map
Autonomous region of Portugal with population of around 250,000
Lies just over 480km (300 miles) from West African coast
The European continent is more than 900km away

The UK foreign office said a small number of British nationals were being treated in hospital.

British holidaymaker Cathy Sayers told the BBC Funchal was like a ghost town. She said the infrastructure had been wrecked.

"The drains just cannot cope with the water that's coming down from the mountains - they are just overfilled with sludge."

There had not really been any warning that it would be quite so bad, she said.

"I think everyone is extremely shocked that this has happened at this time of year," she said.

The president of the regional government, Joao Jardim, said outdoor markets would be encouraged to reopen.

"We don't know how much it will affect the tourism, but there is no point in dramatising the situation too much," he said.

Local media say the authorities' main concern now is for residents of Nuns valley - an isolated mountainous region that rescue workers have been unable to reach.

The BBC Weather Centre says the severe weather was due to a low pressure system, and that while Madeira can expect further rain with heavy downpours on Sunday, there is no danger of a repeat of the flash floods.


Do you live in the area? Have you been affected by the floods and mudslides? Are you visiting the island?

Send your comments using the post form below.

A selection of your comments may be published, displaying your name and location unless you state otherwise in the box below.

Send your pictures to yourpics@bbc.co.uk or text them to +44 7725 100 100. If you have a large file you can upload here.

Read the terms and conditions

At no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws.

Name
Your E-mail address
Town & Country
Phone number (optional):
Comments

The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.




Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Your pictures: Madeira floods
21 Feb 10 |  Europe
In pictures: Madeira floods
21 Feb 10 |  Europe
Many killed as rains lash Madeira
20 Feb 10 |  Europe



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific