At least 36 people died in the landslide that devastated a town in central Venezuela , according to a new part of the authorities that reported this Monday of 56 missing while the rescue work progresses.
“Unfortunately we have 36 people dead at the moment and 56 people who are missing,” Interior Minister Remigio Ceballos said in a video posted on his office’s Twitter account.
The person in charge pointed out that more than 3,000 officials participate in the rescue work under the quagmire that covered the town of Las Tejerías, Aragua state, about 52 km from Caracas and hit on Saturday by this landslide that occurs in the middle of an atypical season. of rains, aggravated by the phenomenon of La Niña, tropical waves and the blows of Hurricane Julia.
President Nicolás Maduro, who decreed three days of mourning, visited the disaster area, according to images broadcast in the local press.
The neighbors desperately support the rescue efforts, along with the authorities, military and police forces, using picks, shovels or whatever they find, AFP found at the scene. The works did not stop during the night, with lights, dogs and drones.
A soldier, at the head of a squad, directs the search efforts with a loudspeaker in this town with an industrial area that has been in disrepair for years. “They are removing debris and blood was seen,” says the officer from a concrete roof in one of the few structures left standing after the landslide.
It is Venezuela’s worst natural disaster in decades. The flooding of the river, which was up to six meters in the structures closest to the channel, dragged trees, cars, portions of houses and telephone antennas.
“Las Tejerías has faced this with great courage because we went out to kick the mud, but it hurts us to see so many dead children, people are stepped on (by the mud),” said Magaly Mujica, 73, who organizes in the town’s church. clothing donations.
Gregorio, 67, was looking at the local slaughterhouse on Monday, an important source of employment that has now been reduced to rubble and sludge. “25 years of work lost,” lamented the worker, now unemployed.
“We continue the search”
Tons of sediment and logs complicate the tasks. The noise of the chainsaws used to cut through the huge jammed logs breaks out at one of the tracking points.
“The most important front is the search front,” declared Vice President Delcy Rodríguez, who also reported 317 homes “completely destroyed” and 757 “affected” by the landslide.
“We continue the search,” repeats a rescuer who has been participating in the exploration work since Saturday, when heavy rain fell on this town bordered by mountains and home to 54,000 people.
Another 13 people have died in different regions of the country in the last three weeks, also as a result of this rainy season.
“September has been very rainy, we have had historical rainfall reports in some areas,” Ángel Custodio, manager of the Venezuelan meteorology institute (Inameh), told AFP. “First of all, we have climate change that is hitting us… we also have what is La Niña.”
“The precipitations have been very intense”, continued the expert, who predicted rains in the 48 hours.
In Las Tejerías, for example, “it rained in eight hours what it rains for a month,” said Vice President Rodríguez on Sunday.
The government has installed shelters in Maracay, the capital of Aragua, said Minister Ceballos, who also announced the distribution of 300 tons of food.
Two baseball stadiums, the largest in Maracay and Caracas, were set up as collection centers. The Caracas metro also announced that it will receive donations for those affected.
Organizations, foundations and supermarkets have also enabled their offices to receive donations and send them to Tejerías. “I brought drinking water, powdered milk, trinkets (sweets) for the children and some clothes for boys as well,” said Karla Cuervo, 39, as she left her donation at a paramedic station in Caracas.
The rains have caused damage in several states. In Zulia, the country’s oil cradle, authorities dealt with floods in several municipalities this weekend.
Around 10,000 people died in 1999 due to a large landslide in Vargas state, in the north of the country.