STATE OF EMERGENCY  Italy’s southern island of Ischia has been placed under a state of emergency following a massive landslide on Saturday (Nov. 26, 2022). At least seven people died and several others remained missing because of the incident. (Anadolu)

ROME – Italian Prime Minister Griogia Meloni on Sunday declared a state of emergency in Italy’s southern island of Ischia following a massive landslide that left seven people dead so far while about 10 others remained missing and hundreds left homeless.

The government provided €2 million (US$2.1 million) in aid and assistance to the local population, a statement said.

Rescue operations were still underway on Sunday afternoon in the area of Casamicciola Terme, but harsh weather conditions complicated the search, Italy’s Civil Protection department said.

Also on Sunday, rescue teams had recovered six bodies – including the one of a young girl – as they continued to search through the mud for the second day in a row, trying to find the people still missing.

The body of a 31-year-old woman was pulled from the mud earlier.

“Mud and water tend to fill every space,” Luca Cari, the spokesperson for Italian firefighters, told RAI state TV.

“Our teams are searching with hope, even if it is very difficult," the spokesperson added.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis expressed his solidarity with Ischia’s people during his traditional Sunday blessing in St. Peter's Square.

“I am praying for the victims, for those who are suffering and for those who are involved in the rescue,” he said.

The massive landslide hit the popular holiday island before dawn on Saturday, after being triggered by exceptional rainfall, and sent a mass of mud and debris hurtling through the port of Casamicciola, collapsing buildings and dragging cars into the sea.

Experts said the disaster was aggravated by the unregulated construction of buildings in areas at high risk of landslides on the mountainous island, which was also struck in 2017 by a 4.0 magnitude earthquake that caused two deaths and heavy damage. (Anadolu)

Photo: Anadolu