Caracas, October 10, 2022 (venezuelanalysis.com) – A landslide caused by torrential rains swept through Las Tejerías town, in Aragua state, central Venezuela, leaving over 30 people dead and more than 50 missing.
The tragedy occurred Saturday night when a downpour started dragging mud, large tree trunks, branches, and rocks from the surrounding mountains blocking roads and destroying some 400 homes as well as businesses, farmland, and a slaughterhouse. The small agro-industrial town is located some 67 kilometers from Caracas.
Speaking on national television from the disaster scene on Sunday, Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez explained that five streams across the central area of Las Tejerías had overflowed after days of heavy rains triggering the large landslide.
The official emphasized that military and rescue teams had been quickly deployed in the affected areas to search for survivors and people trapped under mud and rocks. At least 36 bodies had been found by Monday.
“What has happened in the town of Tejerías is a tragedy. There are still people walled-in and we are trying to rescue them alive,” said Rodríguez. She added that shelters were being set up for those who had lost their homes to provide them with medical attention and cover other immediate needs.
The vice president likewise pledged support for rural producers and business owners that lost their crops and stores as well as financial aid for all the population affected.
Nuestra profunda solidaridad con las familias y comunidades de Las Tejerías en estas horas de dolor y conmoción. El Presidente @NicolasMaduro ha desplegado al Gobierno para atender la situación y ha decretado Zona de Desastre y Catástrofe Natural. El Poder Popular está activado. pic.twitter.com/E3EtrL8tdM
— Jorge Arreaza M (@jaarreaza) October 9, 2022
Also on the scene, the vice minister for risk management and civil protection, Major General Carlos Pérez Ampueda, reiterated that the priority was finding survivors. He detailed that a thousand rescuers with trained dogs and drones were carrying out the search operations while crews of workers using heavy machinery were clearing the roads and restoring services.
Hundreds of firefighters, police and civil protection officers, the Venezuelan Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB), and many volunteers reached the area soon after the tragedy to help move the population to safe zones. Meanwhile, the ministers of water, health, and housing were likewise present to assess the damages and ramp up plans for reconstruction works.
For his part, President Nicolás Maduro lamented the catastrophe, declared Las Tejerías a natural disaster zone and announced three days of national mourning “in solidarity with the affected families.” He arrived in the area on Monday to supervise the relief efforts and reiterated that the government would support the nearly 1,300 affected families.
“We carry the pain, the desperation, the tears of the people,” Maduro told reporters. “But rest assured that Las Tejerías will rise again like a phoenix.”
Following the tragedy, international messages of solidarity immediately began to pour in. Bolivian President Luis Arce lamented the “unfortunate tragedy” and joined “the pain of our sisters and brothers of Venezuela.”
“Our solidarity with president Nicolás Maduro and the noble people of Venezuela that has always risen from adversities,” tweeted Arce.
In turn, the Secretary General of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – Peoples’ Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP) Sacha Llorenti expressed his “heartfelt condolences” to the Venezuelan government and people.
The small town of Las Tejerías was not the only area of Venezuela affected by adverse weather conditions. In recent weeks, the country has seen historic precipitation levels that have caused landslides and floodings in eleven states from the central and western regions leaving at least 18 people dead.
According to the National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (Inameh), the heavy rains increased in the last two weeks due to tropical storm Julia passing through the Caribbean and later landing in Nicaragua.
The Venezuelan government has followed the situation closely and has sent over 20,000 rescuers and officials to the affected regions.
Edited by Ricardo Vaz in Caracas.
Updated on Monday, October 10 to include Maduro’s visit and new casualty figures.