Torrential rains leave 15 dead in Venezuela

The Mocoties river in Venezuela has burst its banks.
The Mocoties river in Venezuela has burst its banks.
@ve_nezuelalibre, Twitter
  • Heavy rains triggered the Mocoties river in Venezuela to burst its banks.
  • At least 15 people are dead and 35 000 have been affected by the flooding.
  • Roads to the village of Tovar are blocked.

At least 15 people died in the Venezuelan Andes after heavy rains triggered mud and rock slides, authorities said on Tuesday.

Several hours of downpours in the Mocoties Valley, a farming region in western Merida state that attracts a lot of tourists, caused boulders to tumble down mountainsides, blocking off roads.

READ | Biden declares 'major disaster' in Tennessee after deadly floods

Jehyson Guzman, an official overseeing Merida on behalf of President Nicolas Maduro, said that 15 people have been confirmed dead.

Images shared on social media showed a stream of water carrying vehicles down a street in the village of Tovar.

Others showed cars buried in mud or stuck between tree roots sticking out of a quagmire surrounded by rocks and furniture.

Merida governor Ramon Guevara said the Mocoties river had burst its banks and flooded Tovar, which has been cut off from electricity and telephone coverage.

Roads accessing the town have also been blocked.

"It's a dramatic, sad and desperate situation. It's not easy to lose everything, worse still to lose family members," Jesus Quintero, a journalist based in Merida, told AFP.

"It's a repeat of the 2005 tragedy."

That year, 41 people died and 52 went missing following torrential rains in Merida.

Heavy rains have also hit other parts of Venezuela, including the capital Caracas. 

Speaking on national television, Maduro said that over 35 000 people have been affected by the rains across the country, with over 8 000 homes destroyed.

The government meteorological institute has warned that six rivers may burst their banks while three states - Bolivar, Guarico and Zulia - are on red alert.

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