60 missing in Ecuador landslide incident

Wednesday, March 29th, 2023 11:00 | By
60 missing in Ecuador landslide incident
60 missing in Ecuador landslide incident

Search teams in Ecuador are combing the mud for survivors of a landslide that buried entire families in the mountains outside the town of Alausí.

More than 60 people have been reported missing after tonnes of mud slid down the hillside in the Chimborazo region.

Government officials said seven people were confirmed dead.

More than 30 have been rescued alive.

The landslide happened on Sunday night after months of heavy rain.

Early on Monday, the government had said that at least 16 people had died, but it later revised the figure down to seven.

As of 17:00 local time (12:00 GMT) on Monday, 64 people remained missing.

Rescue workers said they had heard sounds which led them to believe a 12-year-old boy could still be alive under the mud. Newspaper El Comercio published footage of the moment search teams asked for silence as they listened out for sounds.

Local media said that residents had been warning of fault lines forming in the area following heavy rains. Just days ago, the highway linking Alausí with Guamote was closed indefinitely after the tarmac had cracked open.

One resident told local media that “the mountainside slid down like a rocket” on Sunday evening, burying several homes under earth and rocks.

Local radio reporters described “heart-wrenching scenes” as relatives rushed to the site looking for their loved ones.

President Guillermo Lasso visited the area on Monday. In a tweet, he said that help was arriving “from all sides”.

“You’re not alone, the whole country is behind you,” he added.

But during his visit, some people booed and whistled, while others shouted “Lasso out”. Residents told local media that they were angry, alleging that their warnings about the precarious state of hillside dwellings had not been acted upon.

The landslide comes just over a week after an earthquake struck Ecuador’s southern coast, leaving more than a dozen people dead.

At least 15 people have died and more than 400 are injured after a 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck Ecuador’s southern coast.

Buildings were damaged in several cities when the earthquake hit at around midday local time (17:00 GMT).

The southern province of El Oro was the worst affected and 12 people died there, authorities said.

Northern Peru felt the quake and a 14-year-old girl died in Tumbes, a border province, when her home collapsed.

In Ecuador, Machala and Cuenca were among the cities that suffered damage to buildings and vehicles, as emergency services rushed to help people.

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