FUNCHAL, Portugal, (Reuters) - Portuguese rescuers used excavators and their bare hands on Sunday to sift through mud and debris for victims of violent floods and mudslides that killed at least 42 people on the resort island of Madeira. Officials said about 120 people were injured and 300 spent the night in temporary shelters. At least 240 lost their homes. Officials said they feared more bodies had been washed away into the ocean after Saturdays deluge, and flew in divers from the mainland to search for those drowned. In the mountains above, the death toll was also expected to rise. Miguel Albuquerque, the mayor of Madeiras capital Funchal, said some areas above the city were particularly badly hit, likening the scene to Dantes Inferno: What happened in the higher parts of Funchal was dantesque, he said in televised remarks. We are digging out houses that were buried. Unfortunately, I have no doubts that the number of dead will rise, he added. Saturdays heavy rainstorm unleashed floods and mudslides on the Atlantic island, sweeping away cars and bridges and burying some houses under tonnes of mud. Francisco Ramos, the regional secretary for social affairs, said there were 42 confirmed deaths on Madeira, which lies some 1,000km southwest of Lisbon. He said the number was likely to rise given the circumstances of this deluge. It is the worst loss of life in Portugal since 2001, when a bridge over the Douro River collapsed, killing 59 people. Many roads in Madeira were partially destroyed or blocked with rocks, trees and mud. It took civil protection services more than 24 hours to reach the village of Curral das Freiras, which had been cut off. RTP television quoted local officials as saying one person had been killed and one was missing there. Ramos gave no estimate of the number of people missing, saying many people initially unaccounted for were returning home from temporary shelters on Sunday after being unable to get in touch with their families when mobile phone networks failed. A military transport plane with rescue teams arrived in Funchal on Sunday and a navy frigate was heading for the island to help with the search effort and reconstruction. Alberto Joao Jardim, the leader of the regional government, said there had been no serious incident involving the tourism sector on the island. Many of the tourists on Madeira, which held its popular annual Carnival parades last week, were Britons visiting for the half-term school holiday. Our hotel is not full at this time, but we have lots of guests from all over Europe; Britons, Dutch, Germans. Thank God, everyone is safe, said a clerk at the Windsor Hotel in Funchal who did not want to be identified. The British Foreign Office said it was urgently investigating reports that a British national was missing in Madeira, a spokeswoman said, but added there was no confirmation of any British fatalities. Many tourists could be seen in Funchal on Sunday taking pictures of the damage as the weather improved. Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates visited Madeira late on Saturday, pledging all aid that the regional government requires in this serious situation. Jardim said he had also requested European Union funds.