Published: 2023-03-27 19:58
Last Updated: 2023-06-05 13:22
At least 16 people have died in a landslide triggered by months of heavy rainfall in the south of Ecuador, the government said on Monday.
The mudslide happened late on Sunday night, burying dozens of homes, injuring 16 people and affecting around 500, the Risk Management Secretariat (SNGR) said in a statement.
Ecuador President Guillermo Lasso said on Twitter that firefighters from neighboring areas had been deployed to the village of Alausi in Chimborazo province, around 300 kilometers (180 miles) south of the capital, "to attend to the affected citizens."
Images shared on local media showed dozens of rescuers and civilians trying to clear debris by hand in the dead of night with only torches for light in the mountainous region.
Authorities said they are looking for seven missing people.
Since the start of the year, heavy rains in Ecuador have led to the deaths of 22 people, destroyed 72 homes and damaged more than 6,900, according to the SNGR.
The downpours have caused close to 1,000 dangerous events, such as landslides and flooding.
The area affected by Sunday's disaster had been in a designated "yellow alert" risk zone since February due to other landslides.
The government said it had mobilized the national police, armed forces, the health ministry and the Red Cross to help with the rescue efforts.
"We have activated temporary accommodation and mobilized sleeping kits for those that have lost their homes," said a government statement on Twitter.
The landslide on Sunday came just over a week after 15 people, including a Peruvian, were killed when a strong quake struck in the southwestern border region with Peru.
The earthquake, registered at a magnitude of 6.5 by local authorities, caused 22 landslides that blocked roads in the provinces of El Oro and Azuay.
Afterwards, the government declared a two-month state of emergency in 13 of the country's 24 provinces, allowing economic resources to be redistributed to affected areas.
In February, heavy rains forced oil pumping in the country to be suspended for five days for safety checks over fears that a major oil pipeline could have been damaged by the collapse of a bridge.
Ecuador's Andean valleys can have a rainy season that lasts from October until May.