Venezuela: 25 dead and more than 50 missing in a landslide
Rescuers carry the body of one of the victims in Las Tejerias, Aragua state.
Homes and businesses destroyed, mudslides, trees uprooted… At least 25 people died and 52 others were missing after a landslide late Saturday afternoon in Las Tejerias, an industrial city in central Venezuela.
The heavy rains that have been falling for weeks have already killed 13 people across the country.
Unfortunately, 25 people were found dead. We are continuing the search, Interior and Justice Minister Remigio Ceballos said in the evening on television, updating the previous death toll of 22.
In Las Tejerias , the tragedy came after three hours of heavy rain that began on Saturday afternoon.
Several rivers burst their banks and swept away land, rocks and trees from the sides of the mountains that border the city of around 50,000 inhabitants.
The city, located about fifty kilometers southwest of Caracas, now presents an apocalyptic aspect with gutted houses and businesses and the mud that has invaded the streets.
Trees Gigantic buildings and cars were swept away and now litter the main road, cluttered with bits of wood, sheet metal and other debris.
The city is lost, Las Tejerias is lost, laments Carmen Melendez, who has lived there for 55 years.
In tears, 50-year-old Loryis Verenzuela contemplates the scale of the disaster: I never thought something of this magnitude could happen, it's strong!.
President Nicolas Maduro has declared three days of national mourning in solidarity with the families and promising residents that they are not alone!.
A thousand people are taking part in the rescue operations, interior and justice minister Remigio Ceballos told AFP, who went there to assess the damage.
We had a huge landslide, a consequence of climate change, the minister said, attributing the rainfall to the passage of Hurricane Julia further north in Venezuela.
During his visit, Mr. Ceballos Ichaso clarified that a record amount of rainfall fell on the city, assuring that the average volume of water that falls in a month fell in a day. The heavy rains saturated the ground, the minister added.
On Sunday, teams of workers equipped with machines were clearing the roads covered in mud and debris. In images taken by drones used by rescue teams, large amounts of mud and dirt can be seen covering several streets in Las Tejerias, where residents were trying to shovel tons of mud from houses. .
Worried, Carmen awaits news of Margot Silva, a missing relative. She lives in a nearby town and had been to Las Tejerias to shop.
This is the first time we've seen something like this, we We know we will get over it, but we are sorry for the loss of life, Carmen told AFP.
On social media, many people are offering their help and Los Leones, the major baseball club of Caracas said it was organizing a collection of non-perishable food, mineral water and clothing for the victims.
The opponent Juan Guaido said on Twitter that it was necessary to support the victims and respond to the emergency, criticizing a dictatorship that confiscates power without worrying about the people.
In 1999, huge landslides killed 10,000 people in the state of Vargas, 25 kilometers north of Caracas.