Mudslides Kill 40 on Madeira, Popular Cruise Stop

February 21, 2010
(12:15 p.m. EST) -- Raging flash floods and mudslides have claimed the lives of at least 40 people on the Portuguese island of Madeira.

Funchal, the mountainous capital city that's a popular cruise port this time of year on Canary Islands itineraries (though it's not part of the Canaries), was hit especially hard. The Associated Press and other news outlets are reporting that heavy rains pummeled the city on Saturday, turning roads into rivers and damaging homes, flipping cars and downing trees. Under improved weather conditions today, authorities are engaged in rescue and recovery operations.

The 25,000-ton, 776-passenger Costa Marina is the next cruise ship scheduled to visit Funchal. A spokesperson for Costa Cruises did not have any information to share at press time regarding the status of the call, which is planned for Tuesday.

Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal located in the Atlantic some 600 miles from the mother country. The island is known for its sweet wine, sunny year-round weather, and rugged natural landscape.

Stay tuned.

--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor