At least 25 killed, 52 missing in Venezuela floods
Search and rescue teams are still working to try and find victims missing or trapped on riverbanks and in buildings.
Venezuelan Citizen Security Vice President Remigio Ceballos announced in a televised speech Sunday evening that at least 25 people have died and 52 are missing following the flooding of five rivers.
Tree trunks and debris from surrounding mountains were swept into the city of Tejerias which lies southwest of the capital Caracas, as Vice President Delcy Rodriguez stated that the rains were so heavy that they carried a month's worth of rain and drinking water system, also leading to the heavy damages to businesses.
"We have lost boys, girls," Rodriguez said in Tejerias as she confirmed that those missing were still being located and rescue teams were searching riverbanks for survivors. "What has happened in the town of Tejerias is a tragedy." Deputy minister for the country's civil protection system, Carlos Perez, tweeted on Sunday affirming that information.
Tejerias is a small community with a mere 73,000 inhabitants, and its losses were devastating as properties, houses and cars were filled with mud, debris and tangled tree branches, Reuters reports.
A witness, Gustavo Arevalo, a vendor and a volunteer for a civil defense corps, said that the waters rose so rapidly that the town's telephone antenna fell. "As if dam water had been released". When flood levels decreased, he tried to help others "recover what was left of their businesses."
Three other areas were hit by landslides as a result on Sunday morning but Rodriguez stated there were no victims. The death toll brings the total count to at least 40 because of the La Nina weather pattern which occurs every few years in South America.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro posted a tweet designating the area a disaster zone and declared three days of mourning.
The South American country has been facing a load of sanctions by the US, in light of its anti-imperialist stance and its collaboration with sanctioned countries such as Iran and its support for Russia. From 2014 to 2020, Venezuela lost 98.6% of all external foreign exchange revenues due to US sanctions.
In response to US pressures on Venezuela's transportation and commerce services, Iran has supplied gasoline supplies and equipment required in oil refineries. Venezuela has also received significant shipments of condensate, a heavy oil diluent, from Iran. The latter and Venezuela have managed to withstand economic pressure from the US and have closely cooperated to offset the impact of illegal sanctions, particularly those targeting their energy sectors.
Yet, the Venezuelan people remain in economic distress due to the global inflation crisis that the US sanctions continue to aggravate, leading to a very limited capacity to respond to these floods.
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