ISCHIA, Italy – Historic rains triggered a massive debris flow on the small island of Ischia. The slide is the deadliest in over 100 years. The local fire departments called for reinforcements which arrived by boat from Naples.
A hillside above Casamicciola collapsed Saturday and sped through towns and roads. Mud crushed homes and resorts in the path while filling up parking lots. The force pushed cars into the Tyrrhenian Sea.
"Outside there was a waterfall of water and mud coming down," one fearful resident told a local reporter. "We went down the street to get to the car park but we couldn’t because it was already flooded with mud."
So far 8 people were killed by the slide, according to the Infrastructure Minister talking to reporters. There are conflicting reports on the number of fatalities.
Among the dead were 3 children including a 21-day-old newborn, according to local news reports. Crews continue to search for the 5 missing.
Divers and rescuers dug through debris along the port on Sunday, searching for any victims still trapped in their submerged cars. Look at the end of the video to see the cars overturned and covered.
The prefect of Naples told a local news outlet, Corriere Della Sera, that 15 homes were destroyed or damaged. Over 230 residents are still out of their homes.
Friday night, the National Research Council (CNR) of Italy reported rainfall rates of 2 inches per hour. By Saturday morning mud and rock tumbled into villages and rain gages showed almost 5 inches of rain fell in just 6 hours. The CNR said the amount was a record and far exceeded any rainfall rate in the past 20 years, since they started collecting data in the area.
Drone footage shows the newly bare hillsides and the muddy river of debris that plowed down houses, through streets into the sea 2 miles below.
The Council of Ministers approved a state of emergency. Relying on tourism, the island about 19 miles off the coast of Naples, hopes to repair hotels, streets and neighborhoods before Easter, the start of their busy summer season. Ischia is known for sunny beaches, stunning rocky coastlines and thermal baths.
Casamicciola is an area at high risk of landslides on the island, according to CNR. A girl was killed in 2009 by flowing mud and debris. A rock fell on a restaurant in 1987 killing someone. And, a flood and slide killed 11 in 1910.