At least seven have been killed after heavy rains caused a mudslide in southern Ecuador.
In an initial statement on Monday, Ecuador’s Risk Management Secretariat (SNGR) said at least 16 people were killed and about 500 others were affected by a wave of mud and debris that swept through the small community of Alausi on Sunday night.
Later in the day, however, the agency revised the number to seven people killed, 23 injured and 46 missing. It did not explain the reason for the revision, but noted that 32 people had been rescued.
“We have had to witness a terrible tragedy,” Transport Minister Dario Herrera told the Reuters news agency in Alausi, located in central Ecuador about 317km (197 miles) south of the capital, Quito.
“The first thing is to attend to and evacuate people from the houses,” Herrera said.
President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency earlier this month in 14 provinces impacted by extreme weather.
Twenty-two people have been killed due to heavy rainfall since the beginning of the year, as the Andean nation struggles to cope with the downpour.
Lasso said in a Twitter post that firefighters had been sent to assist residents.
“The Government is fully active serving all affected areas,” Lasso said.
A view shows the aftermath of the landslide in Alausi, Ecuador on March 27, 2023 [Karen Toro/Reuters]
According to SNGR, heavy rains have triggered more than 1,000 dangerous events such as flooding and mudslides since the beginning of the year, damaging more than 6,900 homes and destroying 72.
Earlier this month, a strong earthquake in the states of El Oro and Azuay killed 13 people and injured at least 126 others.
In February 2022, heavy rains also triggered massive flooding in Quito that killed at least 24 people.
In a statement at the time, authorities said that 75 litres of rain per square metre inundated the city’s La Gasca sector.