Floods in western Venezuela increase death toll to at least 20


San Cristobal, Venezuela — At least 20 people were killed in the province of Merida in western Venezuela after heavy rains that caused landslides and river floods.

On Wednesday state television, Merida’s ruling Socialist Party officials announced an increase in deaths and said authorities were working to restore telephone services in some areas.

Governor Ramon Guevara previously said more than 1,200 homes were destroyed and 17 remained missing while rescue workers were searching for the wreckage.

“Let’s not make this political or ideological,” said Guevara, a member of the Democratic Opposition. “Let’s find a solution to the problem together.”

Images shared on social media showed cars swept down the streets, buildings and businesses filled with mud, and landslides scattered rocks on the roads.

Venezuela-Flood
After a flash flood in Toval, Merida, Venezuela, on August 25, 2021, people walk down a muddy street. (Distribution via Comunicacion Continua / comunicacioncontinua.com/ Reuters)

According to Guevara, some towns in the affected areas, such as Tobar, Bailadores, Zea, and Santa Cruz Demola, have lost electricity due to flood damage to their transformers.

Neither the state government nor the local government has the resources to support the affected areas, he said, but he charged infrastructure experts to work with Caracas in repairing buildings and roads. ..

President Nicolas Maduro said on Tuesday that oil minister Tarek El Isami had guaranteed fuel for relief efforts.

Interior Minister Remihio Sebaros told state television Wednesday that at least 54,543 people were affected in 87 municipalities, in addition to road and bridge damage. He said the states that remained in an emergency were Merida, Tachira, Suria, Appre, Amazonas, Bolivar, Delta Amacuro, Monagas and Aragua.

To date, in addition to military members stationed in the area, 80 firefighters and 60 civil protection personnel from Merida have been deployed for emergency operations.

Guevara has instructed authorities to organize a humanitarian aid collection center in Merida’s city center, which receives donations of water, perishable food, clothing and blankets. Guevara also placed health care workers in the most devastated areas.

Angie Polanco

Reuters

Posted on