WORLD Death toll rises to at least 20 in western Venezuela floods

WORLD

Death toll rises to at least 20 in western Venezuela floods

CGTN

13:41, August 26, 2021

People walk on the street covered in mud following flash flooding in Tovar, Merida State, Venezuela, August 25, 2021. (Photo: CGTN)

At least 20 people have died in the western Venezuelan state of Merida following intense rains that caused mudslides and rivers to overflow.

Merida Governor Ramon Guevara said earlier that more than 1,200 houses had been destroyed and 17 people remained missing as rescue workers search the wreckage.

Images shared on social media showed cars being swept down the streets, buildings and shops filled with mud, and mudslides that left boulders strewn across roads.

Several towns in the affected area, including Tovar, Bailadores, Zea and Santa Cruz de Mora, are without electricity as floodwaters damaged transformers, Guevara said.

Neither the state nor municipal governments have the resources to help the affected areas, he said, but he had charged infrastructure specialists to work with Caracas on repairing buildings and roads.

President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday said Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami had guaranteed fuel for the rescue efforts.

Interior Minister Remigio Ceballos said on Wednesday that at least 54,543 people in 87 municipalities had been affected in addition to damaged roads and bridges. He said the states that remain in a state of emergency were Merida, Tachira, Zulia, Apure, Amazonas, Bolivar, Delta Amacuro, Monagas and Aragua.

So far 80 firefighters and 60 Civil Protection officials from Merida have been deployed for emergency operations in addition to members of the armed forces stationed in the area.

Guevara instructed officials to organize a humanitarian aid collection post in Merida's city center where they are receiving contributions of water, non-perishable food, clothing and blankets. Guevara also deployed health workers to the hardest hit places.

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