According to a statement released on Monday by Ecuador’s Risk Management Secretariat (SNGR), a wash of mud and debris that swept over the small town of Alausi on Sunday night resulted in at least 16 fatalities and 500 additional injuries.
In Alausi, a town in central Ecuador that is 317 kilometers (197 miles) south of Quito, the transport minister, Dario Herrera, told the Reuters news agency, “We have had to witness a terrible tragedy.”
The first step, according to Herrera, is to take care of and remove everyone from the homes.
This month, 14 provinces affected by severe weather received a state of emergency declaration from President Guillermo Lasso.
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.
SNGR said that 16 people were injured and seven remain missing following the landslide in Alausi, where images from local media showed civilians and emergency workers looking through debris with only torches to guide them.
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.
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.