ROME, Nov 26, 2022 (AFP) – At least eight people died on Saturday after heavy rains caused a landslide on the Italian island of Ischia, media reports said.

A wave of mud swept down the hill in the small town of Casamicciola Terme in the early hours of the morning, engulfing at least one house and sweeping cars down to the sea, media reports and emergency services said.

“There are eight deaths confirmed by the landslide in Ischia,” infrastructure minister and deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini said, according to the AGI news agency.

Earlier, news reports said 13 people had been reported missing, although there was no official confirmation.

Among them was a family comprising a husband and wife and a newborn baby who lived near where the landslide began, according to the ANSA agency.

The fire service said one house had been overwhelmed by the mud and that two people had been rescued from a car swept into the sea. It said help was being sent from Naples, the nearest major city, but weather conditions were making it difficult to access the island.

“The search for the missing, evacuations and help for people in danger continues,” added the department for civil protection in an update on Twitter. “The rescue effort remains complex due to the weather conditions.”

Local authorities have called on residents of Ischia to stay inside so as not to hinder the rescue operation. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is closely following the situation and offered her thoughts to those affected, her office said in a statement. Casamicciola Terme was hit by an earthquake in 2017, in which two people died.

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