Disasters & Accidents

Quito downpour death toll at 22, with 47 injured, 20 missing

Quito, Feb 1 (EFE).- The death toll in the torrential rains and mudflow that this week affected neighborhoods in the west-central part of Quito has risen to 22, while the number of people injured stands at 47 with at least 20 missing, capital Mayor Santiago Guarderas reported on Tuesday.

At a press conference, the mayor said that two of the injured are in critical condition and are receiving treatment at the Ecuadorian Social Security Institute hospital.

The flow of mud washing down the slope of the nearby volcano occurred during a heavy downpour that inundated the capital on Monday afternoon bringing record rainfall.

According to Guarderas, the storm over Quito was unexpected and dumped 75 liters of rain per square meter (about 3 inches) when just 2 liters (about 1/10 in.) had been expected.

This quantity of rainfall, the mayor said, broke a record set in 2003.

The heavy rain overwhelmed the capability of the local storm runoff system and the reservoir at the base of the Pichincha volcano, which rises west of the capital, Guarderas said.

Ecuadorian Vice President Alfredo Borrero expressed solidarity with the people affected by the downpour and offered the help of the government headed by Guillermo Lasso, who is currently on a trip to China.

A number of residents, with shovels in hand, worked with rescue units to try and find survivors and to clean up the debris and mud filling streets and the lower floors of many homes.

Littering the sector through which the flow of mud passed were tree trunks that had washed down the slope of the volcano, as well as electric power poles and fallen power lines, as well as automobiles covered with mud and others that had been smashed.

City authorities and private organizations have activated sites where donations can be made to help those affected by the floodwaters that swept through a zone that had experienced a similar event some 40 years ago.

EFE sm/db/vh/bp

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