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Death toll rises after mudslides on Portuguese island

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Dozens killed in flooding
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Death toll rises to 42 after mudslides, flooding strike Madeira; 120 injured
  • Washed-out bridges keep rescuers from reaching some parts of island
  • Hundreds of residents were evacuated to military bases and other safe locations

(CNN) -- At least 42 people were killed and 120 injured by flash flooding and mudslides on the Portuguese island of Madeira, the local civil protection agency said Sunday.

An unknown number of people are still missing, the authorities told CNN. About 250 people were evacuated to military bases and other safe locations, said Pedro Barbosa of the civil protection agency.

"We have some parts where we can't go because the bridges are down," Barbosa told CNN earlier in the day, saying the numbers of victims may rise as more information comes in.

He said all the damage occurred in just a few hours Saturday morning due to "very concentrated, very intense" rains that sparked flooding and mudslides.

The mudslides and flooding damaged roads and homes in the capital, Funchal, and in Ribeira Brava, which are both on the southern portion of the Atlantic island.

Map: Flooding in Madeira
RELATED TOPICS
  • Natural Disasters
  • Floods
  • Portugal

Floodwaters overturned cars and knocked down trees.

Search-and-rescue teams have been reinforced, according to the Civil Protection Agency.

Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates said "the situation is under control" and the government is offering its support to regional authorities. President Cavaco Silva expressed his condolences in a televised statement and promised to do everything to help.

Madeira, an autonomous region of Portugal, is a popular resort destination. There have been no reports of any dead or missing tourists.

Barbosa said Saturday's heavy rains were the worst in Madeira since 1993, when a storm killed eight people.

Madeira is one of the Madeira Islands, an archipelago about 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) southwest of the Portuguese mainland.

CNN's Al Goodman, Per Nyberg and Umaro Djau contributed to this report.

 
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