Heavy Flood and Mudslide Hits Portugal Island

February 22, 2010 Updated: October 1, 2015

Villagers are pictured near Ribeira Brava, in Funchal, Madeira Island, on Feb. 21. Violent rainstorms left at least 40 people dead on the Portuguese Atlantic island of Madeira, Interior Minister Rui Pereira said, adding that Lisbon could seek EU help following the disaster. (Gregorio Cunha/AFP/Getty Images))
Villagers are pictured near Ribeira Brava, in Funchal, Madeira Island, on Feb. 21. Violent rainstorms left at least 40 people dead on the Portuguese Atlantic island of Madeira, Interior Minister Rui Pereira said, adding that Lisbon could seek EU help following the disaster. (Gregorio Cunha/AFP/Getty Images))
Saturday’s extreme weather on the Portuguese-administered island of Madeira killed at least 40 people and injured 120 others, AFP agency reported.

Strong winds and heavy rain in the south part of the island caused the mud and water to stream down the streets in the capital city of Funchal and other towns with mud and stones.

The floods are the worst ones since October 1993, when eight people died.

Power and telephone lines were severed in some areas and the main airport had been temporary closed.

The Portuguese government sent a naval frigate Corte-Real from Lisbon with rescuers and a medical team to the island.

According to social services spokesman Francisco Ramos, the death toll will likely increase. The leader of the regional government Joao Jardim said they are providing emergency accommodation in temporary shelters for people who had to leave or lost their homes.

Madeira Island, a popular tourist destination, lies approximately 560 miles southwest of Portugal and 310 miles from the African coast. About 250,000 people live there, mostly in the Funchal area.

The world's highest-payed soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo, who was born on Madeira, expressed his shock at the severity of the disaster. “I want to express my willingness to, as far as I can, help agencies and authorities to overcome the effects of this devastation,” said the Real Madrid star in a statement.