Venezuela floods kill 22 after heavy rain
At least 22 people have died and 52 are missing after five small rivers in central Venezuela flooded due to heavy rains, Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said on Sunday. Saturday night’s downpour swept large tree trunks and debris from the surrounding mountains in the community of Tejerias, 67 kilometers southwest of Caracas, damaging businesses and farmland, Rodriguez said in a speech. televised.
Rodriguez said a month of rain fell in just eight hours and pumps used to supply the community’s drinking water system were washed away by floodwaters, she said. Rodriguez said the priority was to locate people still trapped under mud and rocks throughout the city, while military and rescue personnel also searched the banks for survivors.
“We have lost boys, girls,” the vice president said from a flooded street in Tejerias. “What happened in the town of Tejerias is a tragedy.” President Nicolas Maduro said in a tweet that he had designated the region as a disaster area and declared three days of mourning.
The streets of Tejerias, a town of about 73,000, were filled with mud, rocks and tangled tree branches and lined with shuttered houses, Reuters witnesses said. Armando Escalona, a 43-year-old taxi driver, said he was attending an evangelical church service with his family when floodwaters overtook them. He said he remembered hugging his family for a short while until an unfamiliar object hit his head and knocked him unconscious. When he woke up, he couldn’t find his family.
“I lost my wife and my 5-year-old son. I can’t even speak. We were on duty and it all happened so fast,” Escalona said. Gustavo Arevalo, a 58-year-old salesman who also volunteered for a civil protection corps, said the waters began to rise rapidly around 6 p.m. ET (10 a.m. GMT) on Saturday, knocking down the town’s telephone antenna.
“As if the water from the dam had been released,” said Arevalo, standing in the center of the city, one of the hardest hit neighborhoods. After the floodwaters receded, he tried to help others “recover what was left of their businesses”.
One of the swollen rivers, the El Pato, swept away several homes, shops and a slaughterhouse, according to search and rescue authorities. Carlos Perez, deputy minister of the country’s civil protection system, said in a tweet on Sunday that around 1,000 rescuers were searching for victims in the area.
The downpour also caused landslides in three other central states on Sunday morning, Rodriguez said, but caused no casualties. The deaths bring to at least 40 the total number of people killed in recent weeks due to heavy rain caused by La Nina weather. Venezuela has been plagued with floods and landslides.
(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)