LISBON, Portugal – Madeira on Tuesday began burying its dead from the Portuguese island's worst natural disaster since the 19th century, even as emergency crews kept searching for 13 people who remained missing.
On Tuesday, authorities said they found 19 survivors who had been listed as missing, but Saturday's storm, flooding and landslides killed at least 42 people and left 18 hospitalized. All the fatalities were Portuguese apart from one British tourist.
Antonio Carrilho, the bishop of Madeira's capital, Funchal, presided at the joint funeral of three people from the same family who died when a construction crane toppled onto their home in Santo Antonio, a village at the foot of a valley in the popular tourist destination.
Hundreds of people attended the burial in Santo Antonio's small cemetery of a child, his stepfather and the stepfather's mother, the national news agency Lusa reported. It gave no further details of the dead.
"I have come here because this is the first funeral to be held after the catastrophe which struck us," Carrilho said at the service, according to Lusa. "We need to be strong and brave to go on with our lives."
The Vatican said it sent a telegram to the Funchal bishop on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI in which the pontiff expressed his "anguish" at Madeira's suffering.
Portugal is observing three days of mourning for the victims.
The island's sketchy public records indicate the storm was the deadliest natural disaster on the island since at least the late 1800s.
Madeira's public prosecutor Goncalves Pereira told Lusa that just two of the dead were still to be identified.
Bodies are being held in a makeshift morgue at Funchal airport. Families have so far taken 27 bodies from there, broadcaster S.I.C. reported.
Conceicao Estudante, the regional head of tourism and transport, told a televised news conference in Funchal that the 19 found Tuesday had been located in outlying areas cut off by damaged roads or in temporary shelters.
Almost 500 people are living in shelters after mud and rock slides crashed down the Atlantic island's steep hillsides, wrecking homes and sweeping vehicles into rivers and the sea.
Rescue teams with sniffer dogs and heavy machinery were engaged in the search for the 13 still missing on the island, which is just over 300 miles (480 kilometers) off the northwest coast of Africa.
Lt. Joao Neves Simoes, a public affairs officer on the Portuguese navy frigate Corte Real which was sent to Funchal, said marines and divers off the ship were searching for bodies in the bay where two rivers flowed into the Atlantic. Marines are also looking in drains, inside collapsed buildings and in partly buried vehicles.
"We are essentially searching ... anywhere where there might be bodies," he told The Associated Press by phone.
Officials have said they fear bodies may have been swept into the sea by Saturday's raging torrent. Funchal bay is known to have a strong current.
In the capital's muddy streets, front-loaders and trucks continued to clear away tons of debris. The landslides sent boulders, snapped trees and sludge crashing into coastal communities.
Funchal Mayor Miguel Albuquerque said he expected the city to be mostly clean by the weekend. Officials say they intend to produce a first estimate of the storm's financial cost by Friday.
Authorities are eager to repair the damage to avoid hurting the tourist business which is the island's economic mainstay.
The president of Madeira's regional government, Alberto Joao Jardim, said he wants the island's popular flower festival, which takes place every April, to go ahead because it draws thousands of tourists from mainland Portugal and abroad, especially Britain.
"We can't afford to lose something which is our sustenance," Jardim said of the tourist industry.