At least 7 people died and 46 others were reported missing after a landslide in Ecuador, where authorities had earlier spoken of 16 fatalities but had to review their statements. Another 23 people were also injured in Sunday evening's landslide in Alausi, in the province of Chimborazo, some 300 km south of Quito.
Since early Monday, rescue teams have been searching through the mud for victims while some 600 homes in the vicinity were evacuated as a precaution. The area had been declared on yellow alert in February for landslides. According to the Risk Management Secretariat (SNGR), the landslide in the town of Alausí has left 23 people injured, 500 affected, and some 163 houses damaged. The agency also said that so far this year 987 dangerous events have been reported due to rains, such as floods and landslides.
We need to continue with the rescue processes. We ask all citizens to evacuate the affected areas to attend to this emergency in the best way, President Guillermo Lasso wrote on Twitter.
At dawn on Monday, a huge mud stain spread in the middle of the green hills surrounding Alausi, where 45,000 people live. The avalanche also forced the suspension of classes in three schools. Some 400 students live in the risk zone, the government warned in a statement on Twitter.
Alausí is known worldwide for the so-called Devil's Nose, a steep and dangerous slope through which Ecuador's trans-Andean railway line passes, giving it the name of the most difficult train in the world.
Since January, heavy rains in Ecuador have already left 22 people dead and 346 homeless; more than 6,900 houses were affected and 72 destroyed, according to the SNGR.
The hardest hit areas were the coastal provinces of Manabí, Guayas, Santa Elena, El Oro, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, and Los Ríos, and the Andean provinces of Cotopaxi, Bolívar, and Chimborazo.
Rainfall and an earthquake that left 15 dead forced the government last week to declare a 60-day state of emergency in 13 of the 24 provinces, in order to move economic resources to attend to the victims.
During his visit to Alausí, Lasso announced on Monday a series of relief measures for those affected by the mudslide. He ordered the repair of the roads leading to Alausi and announced the construction of houses, in addition to restoring the drinking water system. Lasso also announced that the search and rescue work will continue for as long as necessary.
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