Lima, Mar 15 (EFE).- Rescue teams were on Tuesday evening searching for around 15-20 missing persons after a landslide buried dozens of houses in a remote town of the Pataz province in Peru’s northern mountainous region of La Libertad, officials said.
“Approximately 15 to 20 people remain missing. We will work through the night to rescue more people,” Defense Minister José Luis Gavidia said in a statement.
The minister, who visited the spot, said that emergency workers had rescued eight people unhurt, while one injured person had been admitted at the local medical facility and could be transferred to a hospital in another city on Wednesday.
Gavidia stressed that rescue teams would keep working round-the-clock to find people trapped under the rubble and attend to others who have been affected by the collapse of a hillside in the town of Retamas.
The minister said that the emergency team deployed in the area included 40 members, including firefighters, mining workers and special police forces.
Gavidia arrived at the town along with the head of the Civil Defense Institute, Carlos Yáñez, La Libertad Governor Manuel Llempén and Pataz district officials.
Peruvian President Pedro Castillo also announced that he would visit Pataz late on Tuesday night to inspect the rescue work and the damage caused by the landslide.
Earlier, the Center for National Emergency Operations had put the number of total people trapped at 15, with six missing.
“The People’s Government will be present at the moment when the citizenship needs it the most,” Castillo tweeted, minutes after concluding an appearance in parliament, where he read out an extraordinary message while a motion demanding his resignation was being discussed.
According to Peruvian authorities, the accident was a result of heavy rains that have been lashing the region over the past few days, with the ensuing collapse of a hillside, burying 60-80 houses.
As per preliminary information, the landslide affected two housing blocks in the locality, situated around 900 kilometers north of Lima and more than seven hours by road from the coastal city of Trujillo.
Local media reported that four months ago the civilian defense had warned of the possible risk of a landslide in the town, due to its proximity to a river, in a technical report. EFE