Heartbreaking accounts are emerging of the last moments of victims of a powerful landslide that tore across the Italian island of Ischia on Saturday.
The father of one woman in her 30s told how she phoned him for help as the earth began breaking on the hill above her, but that he was unable to save her.
Hers was one of five bodies found by rescuers, but at least nine people are still missing on the island of Naples.
The torrent of mud and debris destroyed homes and dragged cars into the sea.
It followed days of relentless rain in southern Italy, but now that weather has abated, the scale of the destruction is becoming clear.
More than 100 firefighters, as well as divers and earthmoving units, have been deployed to Ischia to try to clear streets strewn with debris.
Destroyed vehicles are piled on top of each other, crushed by the force of the mudslide whose trail of destruction indelibly marks the landscape of this popular tourist island.
Ischia, in the Tyrrhenian Sea, is a popular vacation spot for both foreigners and Italians, much like the neighboring Capri. It served as the setting for the 1999 movie The Talented Mr. Ripley and was mentioned in Elena Ferrante’s book series Neapolitan Novels.
However, a major problem on the island is that around half of the homes were constructed illegally and cannot withstand the power of earthquakes and landslides.
Italy needs a “national strategy of adaptation to climate change,” according to civil protection minister Nello Musumeci, in order to ensure that infrastructure and buildings can endure increasingly common events like severe rains. “The largest project we need to finish for the government in the next years is securing our land. If we don’t, we’ll lose more people to grief “said he.
The government has declared a state of emergency and set aside an initial budget of €2 million (£1.7 million) to aid in home reconstruction.
Authorities say they have recovered the bodies of five people so far.
A woman in her 30s, whose husband is still missing, called her father for help as masses of land began breaking off the mountain, but he was unable to reach her due to the torrents of mud surrounding the house. When rescue services managed to wade through the debris, the woman was already dead.
The body of an elderly woman was also found on Sunday, as well as that of a young girl of five or six whose parents, brother, and uncles are reportedly still missing.
On Sunday afternoon, emergency workers said they had found the fourth body. Details of that victim’s identity are still not known.
Residents are being urged to stay home to avoid hindering emergency services in their efforts.
Up to 155mm (6.1in) of rain fell on Ischia over the course of six hours, causing the landslide early on Saturday.
Trees and buildings were uprooted by the mudslide, which also buried automobiles and the homes of individuals.
Campania, the area surrounding Naples and Ischia, has been hammered by heavy rains for several days.
Due to the unfavorable weather on Thursday, two persons died. A guy was struck by lightning on a beach, while an Argentine tourist perished after being dragged into the water during a coastal storm.