Rainstorms and mudslides have killed at least 38 people on the island of Madeira which is an autonomous region of Portugal though it sits over 500 miles from the mainland. “Tonnes of mud and stones were brought down the slopes of the island, flooding the streets of the regional capital, Funchal, and other towns. Officials fear the death toll could rise. Water, power and phones were cut in some areas. PM Jose Socrates, who is in Madeira, said he would ‘do everything to help’. A Portuguese Navy ship, with a helicopter and medical equipment, has departed for Madeira – which is located about 900km (560miles) from the Portuguese mainland and is popular with foreign tourists. Officials say the extra emergency teams being sent include 56 military rescuers with search dogs and 36 firefighters. Interior Minister Rui Pereira, who has also flown to the island, said forensic experts would conduct post-mortem examinations to allow funerals to take place soon. He added: ‘We are studying the possibility of declaring a state of emergency and then seeking help from the European Union.’ Funchal was among the worst affected areas by Saturday’s floods and mudslides. Television pictures showed muddy torrents coursing down narrow channels and spilling over the sides, roads awash with water and streets littered with debris.”
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