World

At least eight dead and dozens missing in Ecuador landslide

The flood of mud and debris plowed down the hillside and hit three cars, two houses and a bus in the Ecuadorian resort city of Banos.

Residents cross landslide-affected terrain in Banos, Ecuador (Dolores Ochoa/AP)
Residents cross landslide-affected terrain in Banos, Ecuador (Dolores Ochoa/AP) (Dolores Ochoa/AP)

A landslide surged over a road in central Ecuador on Sunday, killing at least eight people and leaving 30 others missing, authorities said as heavy rains pummelled the country and caused rivers to overflow.

The flood of mud and debris plowed down the hillside and hit three cars, two houses and a bus in the Ecuadorian resort city of Banos, the city’s fire department said.

Deputy fire chief Captain Angel Barriga told The Associated Press that rescuers were treating nine injured and had retrieved bodies from the disaster site, while 30 more people were believed to be trapped by the mud.

The city of Banos, known among tourists as a jumping-off point for adventures in the Amazon jungle, has long been a magnet for travellers exploring Ecuador’s volcanoes and craters. It is about 186km (115 miles) south of the capital, Quito.

Heavy rains have drenched Ecuador and other parts of the region over the past several days, with a landslide killing two children in El Salvador.

Across Ecuador, storms sent a deluge of mud and floodwaters crashing into roads and bridges, severing the main road connecting Ecuador’s highlands to its Amazonian provinces.

Torrential rains caused several Ecuadoran rivers to break their banks. A torrent of water from the Pisque River flooded a popular waterpark north of the capital on Sunday. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Emergency workers in Ecuador said several landslides had blocked or swept away streets, slowing rescue efforts as the downpour continued.

The mayor of Banos city, Miguel Guevara, urged residents to steer clear of treacherous roads and said authorities were racing to clear the area along the northern coast to search for more victims.