Page last updated at 15:03 GMT, Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Madeira floods missing total drops to 13

Rescue teams remove a body from a house wrecked in a landslide in Madeira 22/02/10
Residents were crushed in their houses or drowned in their cars

At least 13 people are still missing following devastating flash floods on the Portuguese island of Madeira at the weekend, local officials say.

They say that 19 people who were earlier reported missing have now been found and are fine.

Nearly 500 people have been evacuated from their homes. The official death toll remains at 42.

Rescue teams have been using bulldozers to remove rubble and wreckage, while sniffer dogs searched for more victims.

Officials fear that many of those unaccounted for might have been swept out into the Atlantic Ocean.

On Monday, Portugal announced three days of mourning for victims of Madeira's worst disaster in recent memory.

There were fresh scares on Monday, as dozens of people were ordered to evacuate their homes amid fears of landslides.

Up to 40 residents of Ribeira Brava had been told to leave because a hillside had threatened to collapse, and families had also been moved from Ponta do Sol, local media reported.

The disaster struck on Saturday, as cars were buried, buildings damaged and people swept along in raging waters which raged through the capital, Funchal, following torrential rains.

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

Paramedics and divers have been sent from the Portuguese mainland.

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.

There were fears that the death toll could rise as water and mud was pumped out of buildings and underground car parks, and search teams reached 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.

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.

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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES Search for missing in flood-hit Madeira - 20 hrs ago Madeira holds first funerals after deadly floods - 20 hrs ago
ABC News Madeira: 19 Missing People Located, Are Fine - 22 hrs ago
CBS News Dozens Still Missing in Madeira Landslides - 25 hrs ago Fears grow for 32 named as missing after Madeira landslides - 25 hrs ago

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