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LANDSLIDE

Ischia landslide: Death toll rises to eight amid claims warnings ‘ignored’

Search parties on Monday recovered the body of an eighth victim of a landslide on the small Italian island of Ischia, as a former mayor said his calls for an evacuation had been ignored.

A rescuer checks a damaged house in Casamicciola on November 27, 2022, following heavy rains that caused a deadly landslide.
A rescuer checks a damaged house in Casamicciola on November 27, 2022, following heavy rains that caused a deadly landslide. Photo by Eliano IMPERATO / AFP.

A wave of earth and debris crashed through the small town of Casamicciola Terme amid heavy rains on Saturday, destroying houses and sweeping cars down to the sea.

READ ALSO: Italy declares state of emergency after deadly Ischia landslide

The latest body to be recovered was a 15-year-old boy, who was reportedly killed along with his younger brother and sister. Their parents were among those still missing.

The other victims included a 21-day-old baby.

As the island mourned its dead, it emerged on Monday that the former mayor had tried to raise the alarm four days earlier and had asked for at-risk areas to be evacuated.

He sent 23 registered PEC emails to authorities, but “nobody answered me,” former mayor  Giuseppe Conte (a namesake of the former prime minister) told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

Geologist Aniello Di Iorio told the Corriere della Sera daily there were “high risks” of further landslides on parts of Ischia, an island near Capri that is thronged with tourists in summer.

Experts said the disaster was caused by a fatal mix of deforestation, overdevelopment, and a lack of mitigation strategies.

People outside a damaged restaurant in Casamicciola. Photo by Eliano IMPERATO / AFP

National Council of Architects head Francesco Miceli said it was “a tragedy foretold”.

“This is not an isolated case, the risk areas are numerous and affect many regions of our country,” he said.

Italy needs to “quickly define more incisive territorial control strategies (and) concrete intervention programmes, and disburse adequate resources”, he said.

The disaster has also raised questions about the number of buildings constructed in areas that are at a high risk of flooding and landslides, often without permits.

On Sunday, the Italian government declared a state of emergency on the island and approved an initial allocation of two million euros in funding to address the aftermath of the landslide.

Officials had said they expected to evacuate and find temporary homes for between 150 and 200 people.

Local authorities called on residents of Ischia to stay inside to avoid hindering the rescue operation.

Ischia’s schools will remain closed on Tuesday.

The peninsula, off Naples, is no stranger to states of emergency following earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or severe weather.

Casamicciola Terme, a spa resort of 8,000 inhabitants in winter on the lush island of Ischia, near Capri, was hit by an earthquake in 2017 that killed two people.

It was completely destroyed by a much more powerful earthquake at the end of the 19th century. 

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LANDSLIDE

Ischia landslide death toll rises to 12 as last missing person found

Rescuers in Ischia recovered the body of the last missing person on Tuesday, bringing the landslide’s death toll to 12.

Ischia landslide death toll rises to 12 as last missing person found

The Italian fire service announced on Tuesday that the body of the last missing person had been found, and released a picture of rescuers at work in an area of mud and debris still strewn with personal belongings.

Italian medianamed the last victim as 31-year-old Maria Teresa Arcamone, a waitress in a popular bar in Forio on the eastern part of the island. 

According to Ansa, Arcamone was found in the Rarone car park, where most of the debris piled up during the landslide. 

Arcamone’s in-laws Maurizio and Giovanna and her baby nephew, Giovangiuseppe, were also killed by the landslide, Ansa reported.

A wave of mud and debris swept through the small town of Casamicciola Terme on Saturday, November 26th following heavy rains, destroying houses and sweeping cars down to the sea.

READ ALSO: Landslides and earthquakes: Why Ischia – and most of Italy – is at risk

As of Tuesday many Ischia residents were reportedly still staying in hotels, awaiting the go-ahead to return home.

Geologists have already warned that bad weather risks causing further landslides on some parts of the island, which sits near Capri and is crowded with tourists over the summer.

Last Friday, authorities evacuated over 1,000 people from at-risk areas following a heavy rain alert.

Experts said the disaster was caused by a fatal mix of deforestation, overdevelopment and a lack of mitigation strategies.

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