Italian rescuers continue search for missing in island landslide

Saturday's landslide destroyed buildings and swept parked cars into the sea

Rescuers are digging for a second day on an Italian resort island in the search for people lost in an enormous landslide.

One body was recovered on Saturday and about a dozen people, including children, were reported missing in the port town of Casamicciola, in Ischia, feared buried under mud and debris.

Small bulldozers were being used to clear debris – said by firefighters to be six-feet deep in places – and Italian media said digging was continuing by hand in parts.

“We are continuing the search with our hearts broken, because among the missing are also minors," Giacomo Pascale, the mayor of the neighbouring town of Lacco Ameno, told RAI state TV.

The massive landslide before dawn on Saturday was triggered by exceptional rainfall, sending a mass of mud and debris hurtling down a mountainside toward the port of Casamicciola.

Buildings collapsed and vehicles were swept to sea, with 164 left homeless by Sunday.

A caterpillar removes mud from a flooded road. Credit: AP

One widely circulated video showed a man, covered with mud, clinging to a shutter, chest-deep in muddy water.

The island received 126 millimetres (nearly five inches) of rain in six hours, which is the heaviest rainfall in 20 years, according to officials.

Experts said the disaster was exacerbated by building in areas of high risk on the mountainous island.

“There is territory that cannot be occupied. You cannot change the use of a zone where there is water. The course of the water created this disaster," geologist Riccardo Caniparoli told RAI.

“There are norms and laws that were not respected.”

Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni convened a Cabinet meeting for later Sunday to declare a state of emergency on the island.

“The government expresses its closeness to the citizens, mayors and towns of the island of Ischia, and thanks the rescue workers searching for the victims," Ms Meloni said in a statement.

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