Heavy rain caused a landslide in the Andes of Ecuador late Sunday afternoon local time. At least 16 people were killed, authorities said. More than 160 houses were completely destroyed. On Monday, the rescue operation was still underway, because people could still stay under the piles of earth and mud.
The landslide engulfed part of the city and canton (county) of Alausi in the central part of the country, at an altitude of more than two thousand meters above sea level, the Ecuadorian Emergency Management Agency said. At least 163 houses were completely destroyed, and a similar fate befell some sports facilities and municipal infrastructure. Several schools are in the endangered zone.
Killed, wounded, wanted
The incident happened late Sunday afternoon local time. According to local media, five neighborhoods were affected: La Esperanza, Control Norte, Nuevo Alausi, Pircapamba and Bua.
“We are witnessing a terrible tragedy,” Ecuador’s Transport Minister Dario Herrera told Reuters. “The most important thing we have to do is get people out,” he added.
By Monday, six people had been rescued from under the silt and heaps of earth. 16 people have been confirmed dead and seven people are still missing. There are several wounded.
Residents: We didn’t know where to run
As residents told local media, it all happened in “a few seconds” and started with a “big noise”. – We didn’t know where to run. We thought the stadium would stop the mudslide, but it caught up with us – reported a man in his 50s.
Another said “the whole hill came down like a rocket” on houses, making evacuation difficult.
Heavy rains damaged roads and bridges
The landslide in Alausi is not the only drama caused by recent heavy rains. Roads, bridges and other infrastructure facilities were destroyed throughout Ecuador.
President Guillermo Lasso last week declared a state of emergency in 14 provinces hardest hit by heavy rains and earlier by the March 18 earthquake.
primicias.ec, lahora.com.ec, Reuters, PAP
Main photo source: PAP/EPA/Jose Jacome