Flooding in Ecuador's capital leaves 24 dead
The heaviest flooding in the country in two decades left dozens injured and 24 dead in Quito.
Officials reported Tuesday that the biggest flooding to hit Ecuador in two decades killed at least 24 people in Quito, submerging homes, swamping vehicles, and carrying away athletes and viewers on a sports field.
Ecuador's SNGRE emergency agency tweeted that a dozen individuals are missing and at least 48 have been injured. Videos depicted torrents of water bringing stones, dirt, and debris down the capital streets and rescuers assisting residents to safety.
#NewsBreak #Ecuador: At least 24 killed in #landslides triggered by heavy #flooding in Ecuador #pakustv #NYC #SevereWeather #Quito #ClimateEmergency #SNGRE #QuitoEnEmergencia https://t.co/NTnUv6sAPW— Ch.Amjad Ali (@saada186) February 2, 2022
Rain fell in Quito for 17 hours straight, causing a flood that destroyed roads, agricultural regions, hospitals, schools, a police station, and an electric power substation. Many residents were transferred to shelters as officials proclaimed three days of mourning beginning Tuesday.
According to Quito Mayor Santiago Guarderas, a deluge overflowed a hillside water collecting system with a capacity of 4,500 cubic meters but was inundated with more than four times that amount.
As a result of the breakdown, a kilometer-long (half-mile-long) flood swept into a sports field where volleyball players were training with spectators on the sidelines.
"People who were playing couldn't get away. It grabbed them suddenly," witness Freddy Barrios Gonzalez told AFP.
Gonzalez added that those who managed to run were saved but a family got buried under a river of mud. "There they died," he said.
Soldiers with rescue dogs scoured the area around the field searching for survivors and it was not immediately known how many of the players or spectators were among the total number of dead and injured.
Quito police chief Cesar Zapata did not rule out finding more bodies under thousands of cubic meters (cubic feet) of mud and debris left behind by the flood.
According to rescuer Cristian Rivera, many individuals in Quito needed to be treated for hypothermia. Some areas lost power when electrical poles were knocked down. Dozens of soldiers were dispatched to aid the police and fire departments in their search and rescue efforts.
The floods began on the slopes of the Pichincha volcano, which towers over the country's capital. Guarderas reported that Monday's rainfall totaled 75 liters (20 gallons) per square meter (square foot), up from 3.5 liters on Saturday, a record figure the country has not seen since 2003.
President Guillermo Lasso, who was in China on Monday, expressed his sympathy to those impacted on Twitter and confirmed that search and rescue efforts are ongoing.
According to the National Risk Management Service, heavy rains have affected 22 of Ecuador's 24 regions since October, killing at least 18 people and injuring 24 others as of Sunday.
Scientists are warning that dangerously heavy rains are imminent as a warmer atmosphere contains more water.