SANTIAGO – The death toll from a landslide that hit the town of Villa Santa Lucia in Chile’s Patagonia region climbed to 11, while 15 others were reported missing, the National Office for Emergency (ONEMI) said on Sunday.
“We have eleven people dead and 15 missing,” said ONEMI Director Ricardo Toro, adding that some 20 houses were destroyed in Villa Santa Lucia, located in Palena province, about 1,200 kilometers south of Santiago.
He also said that from Monday onward, a registry of the damaged housing and affected people will be conducted by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and the Ministry of Social Development.
According to authorities, the affected area is buried by at least three meters of mud.
“About twenty houses were dragged to some two hundred meters away by the landslide,” which was caused by heavy rains in the early hours of Saturday, a local who safely escaped the disaster told the media.
According to the Chilean Meteorological Office, the affected town received over 120 millimeters of rain in less than six hours.
A loud noise was heard on Sunday night, making the 500 volunteers working in the affected area, including police officers, military personnel, ONEMI officials and locals, feared a new flood would hit the town.
The 350 residents in Villa Santa Lucia then quickly evacuated the area.
The authorities have set up three shelters, one with capacity for 100 people in the town of La Junta, in the neighboring region of Aysen; another for 70 people in Puerto Montt and the other for 100 people in Chaiten.
Several aircraft from the Chilean Air Force and private companies have been deployed in the affected area to deliver food and equipment to those in need.
On Saturday afternoon, Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet has declared the area affected by the landslide a disaster zone, expediting the delivery of resources and the mobilization of personnel to deal with the destruction.
In addition, a police officer who was guarding the area was reported missing after being dragged away by the mudslide, while his fellow officer was injured but has now been hospitalized.