VENEZUELA: Five minor rivers in central Venezuela overflowed due to severe rains, leaving at least 22 people dead and 52 missing, according to Venezuela’s vice president Delcy Rodriguez on Sunday.
Rodriguez said in a televised address that the rain on Saturday night damaged businesses and agriculture by sweeping massive tree trunks and debris from the mountains into the village of Tejerias, 40 miles (67 kilometers) southwest of Caracas.
In just eight hours, according to Rodriguez, a month’s worth of rain fell, and the pumps that run the community’s drinking water system were swept away by the floodwaters.
While military and rescue teams also combed the riverbanks for survivors, according to Rodriguez, the top objective was to find victims buried under mud and boulders throughout the town.
From a Tejerias street that was underwater, the vice president remarked, “We have lost boys and girls.”
In a tweet, President Nicolas Maduro said that the region had been declared a disaster area and that three days of mourning had been observed.
The streets of Tejerias, a community of approximately 73,000 people, were lined with boarded-up homes and covered in mud, rocks, and twisted tree branches.
Taxi driver Armando Escalona, 43, claimed that the flood waters unexpectedly caught him and his family off guard as they were attending an evangelical church service. He claimed that after briefly hugging his family, he was struck in the head by an unidentified object and went unconscious. He couldn’t find his family when he awoke.
Authorities in charge of search and rescue claim that one of the flooded rivers, the El Pato, washed away several residences, businesses, and a butcher shop.
In a Sunday tweet, Carlos Perez, the country’s deputy minister for civil protection, stated that 1,000 rescuers were searching the region for victims.
The downpour also caused landslides in three other central states on Sunday morning, although no one was hurt.
The deaths bring the overall number of people murdered in recent weeks due to torrential rains brought on by the La Nina weather trend to at least 40. Landslides and flooding have occurred in Venezuela.