A huge landslide swept over an Andean community in central Ecuador, killing at least seven people and sending rescuers on a frantic search for dozens of missing people.
Officials reported 16 deaths but President Guillermo Lasso put the confirmed toll at seven as he arrived on Monday night at the scene of the disaster in Alausí, 137 miles (220km) south of the capital, Quito. The number of people reported missing is 62.
Lasso promised people in the town “we will continue working” on the search and rescue effort.
Ecuador’s Risk Management Secretariat said more than 30 people were rescued after the mountainside collapsed on Sunday night. It said 23 people were injured.
“My mother is buried,” said Luis Ángel González, 58, who also lost other family members. “I am so sad, devastated. There is nothing here – no houses, no anything. We are homeless [and] without family.”
Residents told local media they heard tremors on the mountain before the landslide, which was estimated to be about 490 feet (150 metres) wide and nearly a half-mile (700 metres) long. It swept away trees, homes and other buildings. More than 50 houses were buried under tonnes of mud and debris.
The emergency response agency said 60 percent of potable water service in the area was affected by the landslide.