LA PAZ – Four people died and 15 homes were badly damaged when a mudslide swept over a town in central Bolivia, the country’s vice president said on Wednesday.
“Based on the information the residents gave us, we can speak of four deaths,” Alvaro Garcia Linera told reporters after arriving in Tiquipaya to assess the damage and oversee the response.
The mudslide occurred Tuesday night when the rain-swollen Taquiña River burst its banks, sweeping everything in its path and causing damage to water and gas lines.
One of the victims was a 13-year-old boy trapped when the mud covered a home, from where firefighters recovered his body early Wednesday.
Garcia Linera said that he had been in another home where two women were buried by the mud, and identified the fourth fatality as a man of 74.
“We gave the family members assurances that we will not rest until we recover the three bodies so they can be given proper burial,” he added.
Tiquipaya is a municipality in the central province of Cochabamba, located 11 km (6.8 miles) from Cochabamba city, the regional capital.
The regional government opened three shelters, where around 80 people took refuge, and sent heavy equipment to remove the mud from streets and homes.
Army troops were also in Tiquipaya to assisting the regional and municipal governments in the rescue and clean-up operations.
President Evo Morales issued a state of emergency declaration for the municipalities hardest hit by flooding that has affected more than 8,200 families nationwide.