Heavy rains triggered landslides early on Saturday on the southern Italian island of Ischia, collapsing buildings and sweeping cars into the sea. As many as 12 people were missing, and the mayor of Naples was quoted by the news agency ANSA as saying one body had been recovered.
The force of the mud barrelling down mountainsides was strong enough to send cars and buses into the sea at the port of Casamicciola Terme on the northern end of the island off Naples. Streets were impassable, and mayors on the island urged people to stay at home. At least 100 people were reportedly stranded.
There was confusion over the death toll. Italian Vice Premier Matteo Salvini initially said eight people had been confirmed dead. The interior minister later said no deaths had been confirmed but 10 to 12 people were missing.
“The situation is very complicated and very serious because probably some of those people are under the mud,” Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi told RAI state TV from an emergency command centre in Rome.
ANSA reported that at least 10 buildings had collapsed. One family with a newborn had been reported missing but was then located and was receiving medical care, according to the Naples prefect.
Firefighters and the coastguard were working on rescue efforts. Reinforcements arrived by ferry, including teams of sniffer dogs to help in the search for survivors.
The densely populated mountainous island is popular with locals and tourists alike for its beaches and spas. A magnitude 4 earthquake on the island in 2017 killed two people and caused significant damage to Casamicciola Terme and neighboring Lacco Ameno.