Venezuela landslide kills at least 39 people, over 50 missing
A car drives over a hill during a landslide in Baruta, Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, April 24, 2018. The eruption of a hill on Tuesday killed at least 39 people and displaced over 50 others, officials said Wednesday
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The eruption of a hill in south eastern Venezuela’s state of Baruta on Tuesday killed at least 39 people and displaced at least 50 others, state officials said.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said the disaster was caused by a landslide triggered by the volcano’s eruption.
On Wednesday, the president said the death toll had climbed to 54.
The disaster occurred in an area known as a popular tourism and farming area known for its rich flora and fauna.
“We see a number of victims,” Maduro said in an address to the nation. “We understand that this has been a very complex event in many ways and there are victims everywhere.” He said the casualties were not only caused by the landslide but also those working to rescue the victims, and by those responsible for the construction project designed to rescue the victims.
The landslide occurred at the entrance to the Andes mountain range, which is popular with tourists for the spectacular scenery.
The eruption of the hill is believed to have begun in mid-afternoon. “The whole of Baruta (state) has become filled with the smell of sulfur and dust,” said Bolivian army major Guillermo Castillo, who arrived in Baruta the day after the disaster.
The president acknowledged the disaster was “a very serious event” and said the government would seek all necessary assistance from neighboring countries.
The authorities have called for international help to remove the debris and identify the dead and missing.
The mountain where the disaster occurred is the highest of two volcanic peaks that tower over the town of Baruta, whose population is reported to number about 16,000. The Andes mountains are a popular tourist destination due to the diverse scenery that includes gorges, volcanoes and canyons.
The Andes mountains of Venezuela are considered one of the most active