Rescuers looked for more than 60 people reported missing on Monday after a landslide in southern Ecuador that at least seven people died in was caused by months of heavy rain.
In the village of Alausi, located in the province of Chimborazo, about 300 kilometers (180 miles) south of Quito, the mudslide occurred overnight on Sunday into Monday, burying scores of homes and wounding 23, according to officials.
Residents were shocked and many were in tears as they waited for news Monday as rescuers combed through the rubble looking for survivors trapped beneath twisted metal sheets and splintered tree trunks.
As he gazed at the muddy ground, 40-year-old laborer Manuel Upai said to AFP, “Five are buried here,” referring to his relatives.
Avalanches also damaged roads and forced the closure of three schools in Alausi, a village of about 45,000 people surrounded by lush hills.
José Agualsaca, a survivor, told the local TV network Teleamazonas, “I managed to escape with about 15 minutes to spare,” claiming he was hurriedly gathering his belongings out of his home before the mud arrived.
Guillermo Lasso, the president of Ecuador, announced on Twitter that firefighters from nearby regions had raced to the community to aid those affected by the disaster.
He exhorted everyone to leave the affected areas.
The national police, armed forces, health ministry, and Red Cross were all called in by the government to assist with rescue operations.
A government tweet read, “We have mobilized sleeping kits for those who have lost their homes and activated temporary housing.”
- Landslides and floods – The SNGR risk management secretariat reports that since the year’s beginning, heavy rains in Ecuador have killed 22, destroyed 72 homes, and damaged more than 6,900 homes.
Around 1,000 hazardous occurrences, including landslides and flooding, have been brought on by the downpours.
Following earlier landslides, the region that was devastated on Sunday has been placed in a yellow warning risk zone since February.
Little over a week had passed since the severe earthquake that killed 15 people in Ecuador’s southwest border region with Peru.