At least seven people were confirmed dead when a massive landslip ripped through an Andean town in central Ecuador on Monday, burying dozens of houses in its path and sending rescuers on a desperate hunt for survivors, according to the authorities.
President Guillermo Lasso set the verified death toll at seven when he arrived Monday night at the site of the tragedy in Alaus, which is around 220 kilometres or 137 miles south of the capital city of Quito. Earlier in the day, authorities had claimed 16 dead as a result of the disaster. The number of those who have been reported missing has also been increased by the authorities to 62.
Lasso expressed his sorrow over the tragic event and reassured the residents of the town that “we will continue working” on the search effort.
Once the slope caved in at around 10:00 p.m. on Sunday, the Risk Management Secretariat of Ecuador reported that more than thirty persons were rescued. It was reported that 23 persons had suffered injuries.
The calamity, which also resulted in the destruction of a stretch of the Pan-American Highway, was believed to have harmed around 500 people and 163 dwellings.
Ivan Vinueza, the governor of Chimborazo, told the Associated Press that some of the wounded were sent to hospitals in the surrounding region. About two months ago, he claimed, fissures and landslides started to appear, and authorities advised residents to leave the region immediately. Some people heeded the advise, and on Saturday, when the shaking became more intense, others left the area.
Local locals informed the media that they felt earthquakes on the mountain before the landslip, which was estimated to be about half a mile in length and nearly 500 feet in width. It uprooted trees and destroyed houses and other structures in its path. Almost fifty homes were found buried beneath several tonnes of mud and other debris.
According to the emergency response agency, the landslide disrupted potable water supplies for almost sixty percent of the region. According to the media office of the presidential office, certain educational institutions are planning to transition to using online classrooms.
To assist with the blaze, firefighters from around six different cities were sent to the region. The areas on the sides of the landslip where they uncovered traces and wreckage of dwellings were the primary focus of the rescue workers.
Alberto Escobar, a rescuer and paramedic, said that it was doubtful that any other survivors would be located due of the amount of time that had passed.
People may be seen on video from cameras that were linked to the country’s emergency response network escaping their houses with the assistance of their neighbours. In addition to that, it showed individuals moving furniture and many other goods using automobiles.
Among them was the Zua family, who had taken refuge at the Iglesia Matriz de Alaus, where rooms that had been used for catechism or parish meetings had been outfitted with bunk beds in the days following the declaration of a state of emergency in the area by local authorities due to the threat posed by landslides.
According to Sonia Guadalupe Zua, her mother was hesitant about leaving the home they had made together over the years.