Nightly News   |  February 21, 2010

Madeira braves deadly torrent of water

A day of torrential rain brought enormous flooding and deadly mudslides to an island best known for its wine and peaceful vacation getaways. NBC’s Michelle Kosinski reports.

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>>> we have more tonight on the severe flooding in mad heeira an island off portugal. heavy rain has triggered flooding that has 42 dead and a search for the missing. nbc's michelle kosinski reports.

>> reporter: one day of heavy rain . the worst storm in 17 years. has brought enormous flooding and deadly mud slides to this resort island. terrifying residents, tourists, anyone trying to get out of the way.

>> it was amazing. it sounded like the ground was shaking. it sounded like thunder. we couldn't work out why. and then realized it was the force of the water coming through the culvert.

>> reporter: muddy torrents cascade down from the mountains, engulfing towns, hundreds of homes, sweeping away cars, washing out roads. leaving vehicles in piles. some close calls as water ran where people tried to walk. this man described his town over the internet.

>> rivers fall, shopping centers filled with water and supermarkets filled with water. the army was helping people cross some of the roads because it was impossible for them to walk properly. they call in madeira the beautiful garden of the atlantic. at the moment it's not really like that.

>> reporter: at least 40 people have been killed in the raging floods, including a british tourist. a 50-year-old woman who was in a taxi. dozens are hurt and an unknown number missing. southern spain has also been hit by heavy storms and flooding. but madeira, the picturesque getaway known for its wine, is now soaked with water. and more rain is expected tomorrow. michelle kosinski , nbc news, london.