Ecuador: deadly landslide, 62 people missing

Published on : Modified :

A mudslide caused by heavy rains buried dozens of houses in Alausi, in southern Ecuador, overnight from Sunday to Monday. The report shows at least seven dead and 62 missing, announced President Guillermo Lasso.

Sixty-two people are missing in southern Ecuador, in a landslide caused by heavy rains on the night of Sunday March 26 to Monday March 27.

A massive brownish mudslide suddenly descended from the verdant mountains that surround Alausi, home to some 45,000 people.

Several dozen houses were buried in the locality located about 300 km south of Quito, in an Andean area hit last week by an earthquake which left fifteen dead, including one in neighboring Peru.

This landslide left seven dead and 62 missing, lamented Monday, President Guillermo Lasso, who went there. A first official report reported 16 dead and seven missing.

Nearly 500 people in total were affected by the flow, on a neighborhood clinging to the mountain in the northeastern outskirts of the city.

Rescue operations and humanitarian aid in place

Images broadcast by local media showed dozens of rescuers and civilians bustling around the debris to try to free buried people, in a ballet of ambulances with flashing lights and screaming sirens.

“The government is totally active, focused on the Alausi tragedy,” Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso reacted on Twitter, assuring that firefighters had been hard at work since the early hours of the morning “to come to assistance to affected citizens”.

The area where the tragedy occurred had been on “yellow alert” since February for the risk of landslides, due to severe weather affecting the region in recent weeks.

The authorities had also warned of a possible collapse of the E35 road in the Casual sector, where part of the mountain had broken away.

The Chimborazo governor’s office said it was preparing food collection centers to help those affected. The armed forces take part in relief operations and in the transport of material to build temporary shelters.

For its part, the local Red Cross provided “pre-hospital care” to the victims. Residents of nearby villages also arrived in the early hours of the morning to assist in the rescue operations.

Since January, 987 incidents caused by bad weather

The town of Alausi is known worldwide for the “Devil’s Nose”, a steep slope through which Ecuador’s Trans-Andean railway line passes, a stretch dubbed the “most difficult train in the world” due to its dangerousness.

Since the beginning of the year, heavy rains have already left 22 dead and 346 homeless in the country. More than 6,900 homes were damaged and 72 were destroyed, authorities said. Some 987 incidents were caused by bad weather, such as floods and landslides.

In February, rains led to a five-day suspension of crude oil pumping as a pipeline threatened to burst after a bridge collapsed.

With AFP

Related articles