This aerial photo shows a wet muddy street after a flood in northern Quito on Tuesday. AFP
At least 24 people perished in a landslide in Ecuador's capital Quito, and 12 others were missing, Mayor Santiago Guarderas said on Tuesday, as rescue teams searched homes and streets covered by mud following the worst deluge in nearly two decades.
A rain-weakened hillside collapsed in Ecuador’s capital, sweeping over homes and a sports field, city officials said on Tuesday.
The torrential rains on Monday night caused a build-up of water in a gorge near the working class neighbourhoods of La Gasca and La Comuna, sending mud and rocks down on residences and affecting electricity provision.
A view shows the damage caused to a street after flooding at La Gasca neighbourhood of Quito, Ecuador. Reuters
The Quito Security Department said at least 48 more people were injured, while eight houses collapsed and others were damaged when the hillside gave way late Monday. The authorities also reported 12 missing people.
"We saw this immense black river that was dragging along everything, we had to climb the walls to escape," said resident Alba Cotacachi, who evacuated her two young daughters from their home. "We are looking for the disappeared."
Footage obtained by Reuters showed a man struggling to free himself from the muddy waters rushing down a residential street. Reuters witnesses said the man was swept away as residents screamed for help.
Residents are seen in an area of a landslide as firefighter rescue crews continue searching in Quito, Ecuador. Reuters
The storm was pounding outside when Imelda Pacheco said she felt her house move as if an earthquake had struck. Suddenly water and rocks began to pour in through doors and windows and she fled before the building was destroyed.
"I barely had time to grab the hand of my 4-year-old son and I ran to the stairs, to the terrace. Suddenly the walls in front and to the side disappeared,” she told The Associated Press.
"We shouted to the neighbors on the first floor, but the water carried away the mother and daughter,” she said, standing before the ruins of her home.
"I thought I was going to die with my son. I hugged him strongly and we shook, I think from the cold and the fear.. We barely survived,” she added, breaking into tears.Rains in Quito on Monday were equivalent to 75 liters per square meter, the highest in nearly two decades.
Landslides in Himachal Pradesh killed more than 50 people this month, with houses flattened and buses and cars hanging on the edge of precipices after roads gave way.
The disaster took place along the Congo River in the town of Lisal in northwestern Mongala province, according to Matthieu Mole, president of the civil society organisation Forces Vives. The victims lived in homes that were built at the foot of a mountain.
With 35 people still reported missing, fears that the death toll could climb further sent firefighters and volunteers scrambling through the remains of houses washed away in torrents of mud, many of them in impoverished hillside slums.
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