At least 16 people were killed when a sizable landslide washed over an Andean town in central Ecuador, burying dozens of homes and sending rescuers scrambling to find survivors, according to authorities on Monday.
Following a landslide on Sunday in Alaus, about 137 miles (220 kilometers) south of the nation’s capital, Quito, the Risk Management Secretariat of Ecuador said that more than 30 persons had been rescued and that almost 50 others were still missing. Also, the organization stated that 23 individuals were hurt when the mountainside caved in at 10 p.m.
A piece of the Pan-American Highway was also devastated by the tragedy, which, according to the risk management organization of the South American nation, affected 500 individuals and 163 dwellings.
According to Ivan Vinueza, the governor of Chimborazo, who spoke to The Associated Press, several of the injured were transferred to local hospitals.
He explained that after landslides and fissures started to appear roughly two months ago, officials had previously ordered residents to leave the region. As the tremors grew more intense on Saturday, some people took the advice, and others fled.
Before the landslide, which is predicted to be roughly 150 meters (490 feet) wide and 0.4 miles (700 meters) long, locals in the area informed local media they sensed earthquakes on the mountain. It destroyed trees, houses, and other structures. Tons of mud and debris covered more than fifty houses.
According to the emergency response organization, the landslide had a 60% negative impact on the area’s drinkable water supply. President Guillermo Lasso’s media office announced that some schools would begin offering online courses.
Firefighters were sent to the area to assist from six different cities. Rescuers concentrated on the landslide’s sides since that’s where they discovered house remnants and traces of them.
The fact that so much time has passed, according to rescuer and paramedic Alberto Escobar, makes it unlikely that more people will be discovered.
He added that the population does not cooperate (with us), adding that the search would go on as long as it did not rain. “We had a plea for help on the left side.
Residents were seen escaping their homes with the assistance of neighbors in a video taken by cameras linked to the nation’s emergency response network. Also, it featured individuals driving about with appliances and other items.
Many survivors who were staying in makeshift shelters sobbed on Monday. The Zua family was one of them; they lived at the Iglesia Matriz de Alaus, where catechism or parish meeting rooms had recently been converted to bunk beds after local officials had issued an emergency declaration owing to the possibility of landslides.
According to Sonia Guadalupe Zua, her mother was apprehensive about leaving the life they had created together.
My mother didn’t want us to go to the shelter, Zua remarked. My daughter went to persuade her afterward. Everything fell apart as they moved over the tracks. They arrived sobbing and covered in filth.
Zua’s family lost everything but the clothing they were wearing.
Rescuers and neighbors are searching for nearly 50 people reported missing after a landslide triggered by months of heavy rainfall killed at least seven in Ecuador's south.https://t.co/YsbtCpyAs3 pic.twitter.com/mrsvVZc7Ir
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) March 27, 2023