Disasters & Accidents

Hope fading 10 days into search for missing in Venezuela landslide

By Hector Pereira

Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Oct 18 (EFE).- After 10 days of searching for his missing daughters in the wake of the rain-driven landslide that devastated this town in central Venezuela, Carlos Castillo no longer expects to find them alive, but hopes he will at least be able to give them a decent burial.

Carlos, his wife and their five children were among 20 people gathered in a church in Las Tejerias when the disaster struck. As the floodwaters rose, they made their way to the roof of the church for safety, yet only six of them made it out alive.

“We were in the church and there I lost my wife and my two daughters, and I still haven’t found my two daughters,” he tells EFE. “The part where we were collapsed. I was holding onto them (his family), but when we fell into the water we became separated.”

Castillo, 42, believes that God saved his life so he could care for the three children who survived.

It took four days to recover his wife’s body and he remains determined to find the remains of his daughters, who are listed as missing along with six other residents of Las Tejerias.

Authorities say that 54 people were killed and nearly a thousands homes swept away by water and mud.

Also waiting for news is Yeferson Rojas, 25, who learned from neighbors that his 44-year-old mother was buried in the mud. The neighbors spent nearly eight hours looking for her amid the fallen trees and flattened houses.

He tells EFE that hearing what happened to his mother left him in a “state of shock.”

The body of Yenifer Galindo’s husband was found last Wednesday 50 km (31 mi) to the east of Las Tejerias. “The rising water dragged him out of the house and took him,” she says.

“He was among the missing. He was 55 years old,” the 47-year-old Yenifer tells EFE while gazing at the ruins of her home and of the neighboring houses of her sister and daughter.

Galindo says that she hopes authorities will keep their promise to provide those who lost their homes with new houses, preferably in Las Tejerias, where she has lived all her life.

“The search continues. We still continue with the procedure of rescue, search and rescue,” Venezuela’s deputy minister for Risk Management and Civil Protections, Carlos Perez Ampueda, told EFE.

EFE hp/dr

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