Page last updated at 17:32 GMT, Monday, 22 February 2010

Madeira: Residents moved amid fresh landslide fears


Chris Berry describes the flood damage in Madeira

Dozens of people in Madeira have been ordered to evacuate their homes, amid fears of fresh landslides following deadly floods on the island.

Up to 40 residents of Ribeira Brava were told to leave because a hillside threatened to collapse, a local mayor told Portuguese radio.

The Portuguese government meanwhile has declared three days of mourning after at least 42 people died in the floods.

Efforts to find survivors are continuing, some three days on.

Cars were buried, buildings damaged and people swept along in raging waters which swept through the capital, Funchal, on Saturday.

Families have also been moved from Ponta do Sol, a village considered a high risk zone west of Funchal, Diario de Noticias-Funchal news website said, AFP news agency reported.

Firefighters work to free a car trapped between two houses

Specialist army teams are working to get through to communities that remain cut off, with roads blocked and bridges collapsed.

Military personnel and civilian emergency teams have been clearing huge piles of rocks from roads and pumping mud and water out of shops and houses.

In the towns worst affected, local media say schools have been closed and civil servants given a day off as officials try to keep the streets clear for the rescue work.

Four people have been reported missing - but several communities on the south coast are still inaccessible, and some phone connections are down.

There were fears that the death toll could rise, particularly in three remote parts of the island, officials said.

"It is very probable that we will find more bodies," Funchal Mayor Miguel Albuquerque was quoted by AFP as saying.

Paramedics and divers have been sent from the Portuguese mainland.

A temporary morgue has been set up at the international airport, which re-opened for international flights on Sunday.

More than 120 people were injured in Saturday's rainstorms, in which the rainfall exceeded the monthly average, meteorologists said.

Aid request

Water, power and telecommunications were cut off in some areas, with roofs ripped off buildings and roads buckled by the amount of water.

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

About 250 were made homeless and are staying in temporary shelters.

Prime Minister Jose Socrates, who visited the island on Sunday, said he was "profoundly shocked" by the severity of the floods.

Portugal has requested emergency funds from the EU, and Spain has offered help.

Construction firms on the island offered equipment to rescue teams to help shift the debris.

The island is now on orange alert due to strong winds, especially on high ground.

Madeira, located about 900km (560 miles) from the Portuguese mainland, is popular with foreign tourists.

One British woman was killed in the floods, the UK Foreign Office said, and a small number of Britons were in hospital on Madeira.

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

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