The idyllic Italian island of Ischia has been left in ruins by violent landslides with dozens feared dead
The idyllic Italian island of Ischia has been left in ruins by violent landslides with dozens feared dead

Dozens feared dead as horrific landslide DEVASTATES idyllic Italian holiday island of Ischia

Mudslides triggered by heavy rain sweep away homes on the iconic island near Naples

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DOZENS of people are feared dead after a massive landslide engulfed buildings and washed away trucks and cars on the Italian island of Ischia - the iconic backdrop to the 1999 film The Talented Mr Ripley.

One woman was confirmed to have died and dozens more are still missing after sudden heavy rains sparked mayhem, an Italian government official said.

Torrential rain hit the port of Casamicciola Terme, one of the six small towns on the island, triggering flooding and bringing down buildings.

Infrastructure Minister Matteo Salvini said in Milan that eight people had been killed, although because of the extreme weather conditions local officials were unable to confirm exact numbers of those still missing.

More than 70 firefighters are helping in the huge rescue effort on the island of Ischia
More than 70 firefighters are helping in the huge rescue effort on the island of Ischia

Several people are believed to be trapped under the mud after 155mm (6.1in) of rain fell in just six hours.

More than 70 firefighters are working on the island, which lies some 30 km (19 miles) from Naples, to rescue residents from damaged buildings and search for missing persons, Italy's fire brigade said.

Images showed thick mud, debris and stones in Casamicciola Terme. Several cars were submerged on the shoreline, apparently pushed into the sea by the storm.

A resident on Ischia looks out at the carnage after horrific landslides hit the island
A resident on Ischia looks out at the carnage after horrific landslides hit the island

Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi told reporters in Rome: "There are some difficulties in the rescue operations because the weather conditions are still challenging", Ischia is a volcanic island that draws visitors to its thermal baths and picturesque hilly coastline.

"It is densely populated and statistics show it has a large number of houses that were built illegally, putting inhabitants at permanent risk from flooding and earthquakes.

In 2006 a landslide killed a father and his three daughters on the island. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said she was in close contact with Civil Protection Minister Nello Musumeci, the Civil Protection Department and the local Campania Region.

Ischia landslide: Streets on the island were turned into fast-flowing rivers of mud
Ischia landslide: Streets on the island were turned into fast-flowing rivers of mud

"The government expresses its closeness to the citizens and mayors of the municipalities on the island of Ischia and thanks the rescuers engaged in the search for the missing," she said.

The south of Italy, where houses are often built illegally, sidestepping safety regulations, is susceptible to fatal landslides. In 1998 at least 150 people were killed when mud submerged the village of Sarno, also not far from Naples.

Ischia was the iconic backdrop to The Talented Mr Ripley
Ischia was the iconic backdrop to The Talented Mr Ripley

Local resident Lisa Mocciaro said: "We started hearing loud thunder at about 03:00 (02:00 GMT), then the first landslide came down, followed by a second one around 05:00. It was horrifying."

Ischia, in the Tyrrhenian Sea, is a popular holiday destination for tourists and Italians, like it's sister island Capri.

The 1999 film The Talented Mr Ripley - which was set on the island - starred Matt Damon, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

A dark, psychological thriller, it grossed $128 million worldwide and received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Law.