At least 22 people were killed after mud, rocks and debris swept through Las Tejerías in central Venezuela.
A landslide caused by flooding and days of torrential rain has swept through a town in central Venezuela, killing at least 22 people.
Las Tejerías residents of Santos Michelena took seconds to reach safety late Saturday when mud, rocks and trees tore through their streets and homes. The agricultural-industrial town is located in the state of Aragua, 87 km (54 mi) southwest of the capital Caracas.
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 locked in there,” said Rodríguez. “We’re trying to rescue them, to save them alive.”
She said shelters will be set up for those who have lost their homes.
Housewife Carmen Teresa Chirinos, resident of Las Tejerías, in Las Tejerías, said that on the ridge higher up the mountainside, most of the houses were swept away, including those belonging to a group of Protestant Christians. praying. Families hugged and cried over destroyed homes and businesses.
“There are a lot of people missing,” Chirinos said.
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 neighborhoods of El Béisbol and La Agotada 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 supplies.
“A lot of families lost their homes and I, as an entrepreneur, lost my pizzeria,” says Luis Fuentes, who opened his restaurant two years ago. “Look, I’ve got nothing.”
Aragua’s premier, 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.