Madeira counts cost of tempestuous weather

By Carrie-Marie Bratley, in Regional · 12-12-2013 14:54:00 · 0 Comments
Madeira counts cost of tempestuous weather

Thousands of travellers and students suffered widespread disruption on Tuesday (10 December) after Madeira was placed on red alert due to high winds and heavy rain that lashed the Portuguese island, grounding flights, closing schools and causing extensive damage to Funchal Port. One man died during the gale after being swept out to sea by a huge wave.

On Wednesday regional authorities were assessing the turmoil caused by the weather and by the time of going to press on Thursday had not yet been able to estimate how much it will cost to fix the damage.
As the island emerged from the red alert conditions, reports of its ferocity started filtering through.
Madeira’s regional branch of national news channel RTP reported that a 45-year-old man, said to be an employee of Machico Council, had died after falling into the sea.
He was swept into the treacherous waters as he tried to help a crew member on a boat.
As a preventative measure, on Tuesday the Regional Secretary for Education and Human Resources cancelled all night lessons in schools across the island from 7pm onwards.
Forecasts were that the weather would worsen during the course of the afternoon and into the night.
Shortly after lunch, Funchal Port issued a warning urging all boats to return to port.

“We recommend that all vessels return to their harbours and their crew or proprietors remain vigilant”, the note stressed.
UK airline easyjet cancelled its two daily flights from Lisbon to Madeira; national flag-carrier TAP saw one of its flights, from Oporto to Funchal, divert to Lisbon and another from Funchal to Lisbon cancelled.
In a statement sent to The Portugal News a spokesperson for the British low-cost airline said: “easyJet can confirm that flights EZY7601 and EZY7605 from Lisbon to Madeira have been delayed overnight due to strong winds around Funchal Airport. The flights have been rescheduled for 11 December subject to weather conditions improving and we are doing everything possible to keep customers updated.
“Although the delay is due to circumstances beyond easyJet’s control we would like to apologise to the customers for the inconvenience caused and have arranged overnight accommodation for those affected by the diversion.”
The TAP passengers who were forced to divert to Lisbon were rebooked onto a flight that left the Portuguese capital for the island later that afternoon and landed safely at Funchal amid the adverse conditions.
Passengers who were due to leave on the cancelled 9.40am flight from Funchal to Lisbon were also rebooked onto other flights that departed the island successfully despite it remaining on the highest level of weather warning.
Overall, more than 2,000 passengers travelling on 28 flights to and from Madeira were affected by Tuesday’s bad weather; flights from other European airports were delayed or diverted to other islands such as Porto Santo, Lanzarote or Las Palmas until the weather improved.
As night fell the islanders hunkered down ahead of what they expected to be a stormy night. Come morning, the authorities were tallying up the damage caused.
Speaking to Lusa News Agency on Wednesday morning the head of the regional civil protection service SRPCM said that the night had been “better than feared” and that by dawn “there were no problems” other than the rain and the wind.
“Other than problems along the coast, in marinas and in ports, which are the competency of the maritime authorities, and despite coinciding with the predicted high peak of occurrences, on land there were no great problems other than some landslides, without significant consequences”, Colonel Luís Néri said.
More than a dozen roads had to be closed or partly cut off due to fallen trees and rubble, and the rough seas destroyed around fourteen boats as well as damaging a number of pontoons in the island’s various marinas.
On Wednesday morning the Portuguese met office had downgraded the weather warning to yellow and flights to Funchal were taking off from Lisbon as normal.



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