British woman dies in Madeira floods

A British woman was confirmed as one of the 42 dead as flash floods caused devastation on Madeira over the weekend...

A British woman was confirmed dead last night in the devastating floods which killed at least 40 people in Madeira. Pamela Gaines, 50, from Garton on the Wolds, near Driffield in East Yorkshire, was swept away when her taxi hurtled down a hillside after being struck by a surge of water.  

Rescue workers were last night racing against time to dig out homes and cars buried under the mud slides. The carnage followed the worst storm to hit the Portuguese holiday island for 17 years.

A small number of Britons, understood to be less than five, were being treated in hospital.

The island’s most famous son, Real Madrid football star Cristiano Ronaldo, vowed to help. And during a game against Villarreal last night, he lifted his shirt to reveal a T-shirt bearing the name of his stricken home.

Speaking in Madrid, he said: ‘Nobody can remain indifferent to 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.’

The floods were so powerful, they carved paths down mountains and through the main town of Funchal, churning under bridges and even tearing some down to further hamper rescuers.

Portuguese PM Jose Socrates said he was ‘profoundly shocked’ by the severity of the floods and promised the government would help Madeira recover as quickly as possible.

Malcolm and Marie Titchener, both 78, from West Chiltington in West Sussex, watched from the windows of their seafront hotel. ‘The seas were enormous and turned brown with all the run-off and debris brought down with the rains,’ Mr Tichener said.

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