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News / Nation & World

Landslide in Ecuador kills at least 7 as homes buried; 62 missing

Published: March 28, 2023, 3:29pm

ALAUSI, Ecuador — A huge landslide swept over an Andean community in central Ecuador, burying dozens of homes, killing at least seven people and sending rescuers on a frantic search for survivors, authorities said Monday.

Earlier in the day, officials had reported 16 deaths, but President Guillermo Lasso put the confirmed toll at seven as he arrived Monday night at the scene of the disaster in Alausí, about 137 miles south of the capital, Quito. Officials also raised the number of people reported missing to 62.

Lasso lamented the tragedy and promised people in the town that “we will continue working” on the search effort.

Ecuador’s Risk Management Secretariat said more than 30 people were rescued after the mountainside collapsed around 10 p.m. Sunday. It said 23 people were injured.

“My mother is buried” under the mud, said Luis Ángel González, 58, who also lost other family members Sunday. “I am so sad, devastated. There is nothing here, no houses, no anything. We are homeless, without family.”

The risk management agency estimated 500 people and 163 homes were affected by the disaster, which also destroyed a portion of the Pan-American Highway.

The governor of Chimborazo, Ivan Vinueza, told The Associated Press that some of the injured were taken to area hospitals.

Area residents told local media they heard tremors on the mountain before the landslide, which was estimated to be about 490 feet wide and nearly a half mile long. It swept away trees, homes and other buildings. More than fifty houses were buried under tons of mud.