Rescuers searched Monday for more than 60 people reported missing after a landslide triggered by months of heavy rain killed at least seven people in southern Ecuador.
The mudslide happened overnight , burying dozens of homes and injuring 23 people in the village of Alausi in Chimborazo province, some 300 kilometers (180 miles) south of Quito, officials said.
Shocked residents, many in tears, stood waiting for news Monday as crews with shovels, pick axes and sniffer dogs dug through the debris to get to survivors stuck between sheets of twisted metal and split tree trunks.
“Five are buried here,” Manuel Upai, a 40-year-old laborer, told AFP, referring to relatives of his as he stared at the muddy ground.
Alausi, a village of some 45,000 people surrounded by green hills, also saw several public buildings hit by the avalanche, which damaged roads and closed three schools.
“I managed to escape with about 15 minutes to spare,” survivor Jose Agualsaca told local TV network Teleamazonas, saying he was rushing to get things out of his house before the mud came.
Ecuadoran President Guillermo Lasso said on Twitter that firefighters from neighboring areas had been rushed to the village to help people affected by the tragedy.
He urged all citizens to evacuate the affected areas.
The government mobilised the national police, armed forces, the health ministry and the Red Cross to help with the rescue efforts.“We have activated temporary accommodation and mobilized sleeping kits for those that have lost their homes,” said a government statement on Twitter.