Madeira Storms Subside, at Least 40 Dead

FUNCHAL, Portugal, Feb. 21 (UPI) — Search-and-rescue teams fanned out across the Portuguese island of Madeira Sunday where floods and mudslides claimed at least 40 lives, officials said.

A spokesman for the civil protection agency told CNN at least 120 people were injured and an undetermined number of people were missing on the tourist island.

Spokesman Pedro Barbosa told CNN the casualty totals could rise as the day goes on.

“We have some parts where we can’t go because the bridges are down,” he said.

Barbosa said hundreds of people were evacuated to shelters as the torrential rain washed away roads and damaged homes in the capital of Funchal and in Riberia Brava.

Portugal has asked the European Union for disaster financial aid, Radio France Internationale reported Sunday.

Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates was on the island to assess the damage, while President Anibal Cavaco Silva pledged support for the victims of the storm.

The worst damage was on the southern portion of the island, located about 600 miles southwest of Portugal.

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