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Massive landslide hits Venezuela, leaving at least 30 people dead and 54 missing

Massive landslide hits Venezuela, leaving at least 30 dead, 54 people missing

A massive landslide hit the town of Las Tejerías, Venezuela on October 9, 2022, leaving at least 30 people dead and 54 others missing. The town is loaded 87 km (54 miles) SW of Caracas. This is one of Venezuela’s biggest landslides in decades.

According to officials, the landslide hit the central area of the town after five streams overflowed on October 9.

“There are still people walled in,” Vice President Delcy Rodríguez told state-owned Venezolana de Televisión.

 “We are trying to rescue them, to rescue them alive.”

Major Gen. Carlos Pérez Ampueda, the vice minister for risk management and civil protection, said that several people were reported missing in the El Béisbol and La Agotada neighborhoods in the north of the town. Dozens of homes were damaged by the landslide.1

Rescuers were carrying out search operations with trained dogs and drones, Pérez Ampueda said. Crews of workers and heavy machinery removed debris to clear roads and restore electricity and water services.

“The images appear to show large amounts of mud and debris in the town, including a considerable volume of wood.  The debris seems to be predominantly fine-grained,” landslides expert Dr. Dave Petley said.2

“There are also a small number of videos online, captured during the event, which mostly seem to show fast moving, sediment-rich flows.”

“It is quite unclear at the moment as to the sequence of events at Las Tejerías. Particularly pertinent here might be the large channel that flows southwards through the town to join the main channel, draining the hills to the north,” Petley said.

“A reasonable first-order hypothesis for this disaster may be that it was caused by mudflows traveling down one or more of these channels, triggered by heavy rainfall in the hills to the north.  These events could have resulted simply from the heavy rainfall, from multiple landslides in the catchment that have transformed into channelized mudflows, or from a valley-blocking landslide in one or more channels, that breached to create a large flow. At the moment this is purely speculation.”

References:

1 A rain-fueled landslide sweeps through Venezuela town, leaving more than 20 dead – AP – October 10, 2022

2 The 8-9 October 2022 disaster at Las Tejerías in Venezuela – The Landslide Blog – October 10, 2022

Featured image credit: CGTN (stillshot)

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