LAS TEJERÍAS, Venezuela –
A landslide caused by floods and days of torrential rain swept through a town in central Venezuela, authorities said Sunday, killing at least 22 people as it dragged mud, rocks and trees. through the neighboring areas. Dozens of people are missing.
Residents of Las Tejerías in Santos Michelena, an agri-industrial town in the state of Aragua 54 miles (87 km) southwest of Caracas, took seconds to reach safety late Saturday when debris fell mountainside.
Vice President Delcy Rodríguez told the state-owned Venezolana de Televisión the death toll had risen to 22 after 20 bodies were recovered on Sunday.
“There was a massive landslide in the central area of Las Tejerías, where five streams overflowed,” she said. “We found 22 dead; more than 52 people are missing.
“There are still people trapped in there, we are trying to rescue them, to save them alive,” Rodríguez said.
She said shelters will be set up for those who have lost their homes.
Housewife Carmen Teresa Chirinos, resident of Las Tejerías, said that on the slopes higher on the mountainside, most of the houses were washed away, including those of a group of Protestants praying as they prayed. landslide occurred. Families hugged and cried over destroyed homes and businesses.
“There are a lot of people missing,” Chirinos said.
A few hours earlier, Major General Carlos Pérez Ampueda, Undersecretary for Risk Management and Civil Protection, had announced via Twitter that several people had been reported missing in the northern El Béisbol and La Agotada regions. town. Dozens of houses were damaged by landslides.
Pérez Ampueda said rescuers were carrying out search operations with trained dogs and drones. Teams of workers and heavy machinery cleared debris to clear roads and restore water and electricity services.
“A lot of families lost their homes and I, as an entrepreneur, lost my pizzeria,” says Luis Fuentes, who opened his pizza restaurant two years ago.
Aragua Governor Karina Carpio said floodwaters had “terribly affected” 21 areas in Las Tejerías, the capital of the Santos Michelena municipality, which has about 54,000 people.
Over the past week, torrential rains have caused flooding in 11 of Venezuela’s 23 states.
President Nicolás Maduro said 20,000 officials, including rescuers and members of the security forces, had been deployed to the affected areas.
Associated Press journalists Jorge Rueda contributed to this report from Caracas and Matías Delacroix from Las Tejerías.