Floods after heavy rain kill at least 22 people in Venezuela
Caracas, Oct 10: At least 22 people were killed after heavy rains in central Venezuela caused flash flooding, Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said Sunday.
Another 52 people were still missing.
Saturday night's intense downpour caused five small rivers to overflow, sweeping large debris from surrounding mountains into the community of Las Tejerias, located 87 kilometers (54 miles) southwest of the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.
Las Tejerias is the capital of the Santos Michelena municipality and is home to 54,000 people.
What have officials said about the floods?
Venezuela's strongman leader Nicolas Maduro said 20,000 people had been deployed to flood affected regions to deal with search and rescue, emergency management and clean up.
In a televised address to the nation aired on state TV, Vice President Rodriguez said business and farmland were damaged in addition to the lives that were lost in the floods.
Pumps used to power the community's drinking water system were also swept away, she said.
The vice president added that it was paramount to locate survivors and that search and rescue operations involving the military and emergency services are ongoing.
"What has happened in the town of Las Tejerias is a tragedy," Rodriguez said, speaking from a flooded street in Las Tejerias. "We have lost boys, girls."
Rodriguez said three other central states were also affected by flooding, but no casualties had resulted. Shelters were being set up to take in those who had lost their homes.
The deputy minister for the country's civil protection system, Carlos Perez, said scores remained missing in the El Beisbol and La Agotada neighborhoods in the northern part of Las Tejerias.
What condition are the affected areas in?
Venezuelan state TV aired images of the aftermath of the flooding, highlighting debris-strewn streets and destroyed homes and businesses. Trained dogs and drones were assisting with rescue operations.
Search and rescue teams said the El Pato river had swept away homes, shops and even a slaughterhouse. Heavy equipment was used to remove debris and unblock roads.
In recent weeks, including Sunday's casualty figure, 40 have died in weather patterns associated with the La Nina phenomenon, which has caused floods and landslides in Venezuela.
Eleven of Venezuela's 23 states have been affected by severe rains in the past week alone.