Hillside collapse in Ecuador capital leaves at least 24 dead
Rescue workers and local residents remove debris following a mudslide in Quito, Ecuador, on Tuesday, February 1st. Photograph: Karen Toro/Bloomberg
At least 24 people have been killed after a rain-weakened hillside collapsed in Ecuador’s capital, sweeping over homes and a sports field.
Quito officials said at least 48 more people were injured, while eight houses collapsed and others were damaged when the hillside gave way late on Monday.
The authorities also reported 12 missing people.
Neighbours joined rescue workers in searching through the ruins for survivors of the disaster that hit following nearly 24 hours of rainfall.
The storm was pounding outside when Imelda Pacheco said she felt her house move as if an earthquake had struck.
Water and rocks began to pour in through doors and windows, and she fled before the building was destroyed.
Ms Pacheco said: “I barely had time to grab the hand of my four-year-old son and I ran to the stairs, to the terrace. Suddenly the walls in front and to the side disappeared.
“We shouted to the neighbours on the first floor, but the water carried away the mother and daughter,” she said, standing before the ruins of her home.
“I thought I was going to die with my son. I hugged him strongly and we shook, I think from the cold and the fear. We barely survived.”
Waves of mud, some 10ft high, carried vehicles, motorcycles, bins and other debris in the neighbourhoods of La Gasca and La Comuna below the slopes of the Ruco Pinchincha mountain.
As the rescue began, police called for silence so the cries of anyone who may be trapped could be heard.
Quito mayor Santiago Guarderas said the intense rains saturated the soils, setting off the landslide.
Smaller waves of muddy water continued pouring down the ravine Tuesday past weary neighbours trying to move stones, tree trunks and debris.
An overturned taxi and other vehicles were partly buried in mud on a sports field.
“I’ve lost everything. I don’t have anything. Everything is over,” said 65-year-old Laura Quinonez, who stood beside an ambulance as her neighbours tried to recover appliances from their destroyed homes. – PA