Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

At Least 4 Killed, 15 Missing in Chile Mudslides

At Least 4 Killed, 15 Missing in Chile Mudslides

Sunday, 17 December, 2017 - 10:00
Damage done by a landslide is seen in Villa Santa Lucia, Los Lagos, Chile December 16, 2017 in this still image obtained from social media. (Reuters)

At least four people were killed on Saturday and over a dozen missing following mudslides that were triggered by heavy rain, officials said.

Rain caused a river to overflow and the side of a hill to collapse, burying 20 of the 200 houses in Villa Santa Lucia in the Los Lagos region, located 790 miles (1,272 kilometers) south of Chile's capital, Santiago.

A video taken from a helicopter by Chilean police showed a vast swath of the remote town buried beneath the mud as the landslide plowed its way down a flooded river valley.

Earlier Saturday, Deputy Secretary of the Interior Madmud Aleuy said there were three people dead, including an unidentified tourist.

Rescue workers were continuing to search through the debris for at least 15 people.

President Michelle Bachelet declared the region a catastrophe zone and confirmed the number of dead and missing.

“I have ordered rescue workers to put all the necessary resources toward protecting the people of Villa Santa Lucia,” she said on social media.

She met with her team of ministers to coordinate rescue and assistance efforts.

Some of the injured were taken by helicopter to medical centers.

Two families were evacuated because of a fire caused by the slide, authorities said. Water and electricity service to the area was knocked out.

The alert level in the area had been raised to red because of the persistent rains.

The mudslide also destroyed a school and several homes and roadways as well as a voting center ahead of Chile’s presidential election on Sunday.

More than 4.5 inches (11.4 cm) of rain fell in 24 hours, the country’s Interior Ministry said, but weather conditions were expected to improve later in the day.

Villa Santa Lucia borders Chile’s Corcovado National Park, a popular tourist region of volcanoes, fjords and vast forests.

The nearby Chaiten volcano erupted in 2008, forcing the evacuation of thousands of residents.

Editor Picks