A rain-weakened hillside has collapsed in Ecuador’s capital, killing at least 24 people as it swept over homes and a sports field.
The Quito Security Department said on Tuesday that at least 48 more people were injured, while eight houses collapsed and others were damaged when the hillside gave way late on Monday. The authorities also reported 12 missing people.
Neighbours joined rescue workers in hunting through the ruins for survivors of the disaster that hit following nearly 24 hours of rainfall.
The storm was pounding outside when Imelda Pacheco said she felt her house move as if an earthquake had struck. Suddenly water and rocks began to pour in through doors and windows and she fled before the building was destroyed.
“I barely had time to grab the hand of my four-year-old son and I ran to the stairs, to the terrace. Suddenly the walls in front and to the side disappeared,” she told The Associated Press.
“We shouted to the neighbours on the first floor, but the water carried away the mother and daughter,” she said, standing before the ruins of her home.
“I thought I was going to die with my son. I hugged him strongly and we shook, I think from the cold and the fear … We barely survived,” she added, breaking into tears.
Waves of mud, some 3 metres (10-feet) high, carried vehicles, motorcycles, rubbish bins and other debris under heavy rain in the neighbourhoods of La Gasca and La Comuna below the slopes of the Rucu Pichincha volcano.
As the rescue began, police called for silence so the cries of those trapped could be heard.
Quito Mayor Santiago Guarderas said the intense rains saturated the soils, setting off the landslide.
Sixty-five-year-old Laura Quiñónez, who stood beside an ambulance as her neighbours tried to recover appliances from their destroyed homes, said she had “lost everything. I don’t have anything. Everything is over.”