At least 20 people have been confirmed dead after the devastating landslides that affected western Venezuela.
The streets of the mountainous towns became furious torrents after the intense rains that fell in that Andean area.
However, the AFP news agency quotes local official Jehyson Guzman as saying the death toll has risen to 20, with 17 people missing.
For his part, the Minister of Internal Relations, Justice and Peace, Regimio Ceballos, affirmed that they are working 24 hours a day on rescue and aid operations.
On Wednesday he reported that 54,543 people and more than 14,000 families were affected by the heavy rains in recent days.
Ceballos told the Venezuelan state television channel that they have displaced the Simón Bolívar Task Force and other risk management and civil protection authorities to work “hand in hand with the governors and mayors to protect the Venezuelan people” and guarantee that no one lacks assistance and support.
The minister added that the forecast is for more rains for approximately ten days.
The state of Mérida was the most affected, but Táchira, Zulia, Amazonas, Bolívar, Delta Amacuro, Monagas, Apure and Aragua also “remain under emergency.”
The images taken by the inhabitants of the region show cars carried by the water and huge rocks scattered through the muddy streets.
Most of the deaths occurred in the town of Tovar, where the Mocotíes River overflowed after hours of rain.
The journalist Leonardo León posted on Twitter the images taken by a Tovar resident at the entrance to the town.
Through the website of the Archdiocese of Mérida, the priest of the parish of Amparo, in Tovar, reported that the roads are completely impassable and some houses are completely destroyed.
“They are only opening a few small pikes to be able to put motorcycles,” said Father Vicente Arellano, which has made it difficult to transport the wounded to hospitals. Three deaths have been registered in the community, the priest reported.
He added that there are more than 60 meters of pipe that broke, “so that the community no longer has water … Food has already run out because people, in the midst of despair, made purchases. In other words, there is no food income at the moment. “
In another video, a resident can be heard describing how suddenly “the river came out of nowhere”, dragging a local bakery in its channel.
In addition to the shortage of water and food, authorities reported that the power plant in Tovar was damaged and that residents have neither power nor telephone connection.
This is not the first time that the Mocotíes valley has suffered deadly mudslides. In 2005, more than 40 people died and dozens were missing in that region when several rivers overflowed.
From BBC News