Venezuela Landslide: Pres. Maduro Vows to Rebuild Las Tejerías, 43 Dead

A man looks at the rubble of destroyed houses in Las Tejerias on Sunday.
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Residents remove mud inside a house after devastating floods swept through the town over the weekend, in Las Tejerias, Venezuela October 11, 2022Image source, Reuters

Hopes are fading that any more survivors will be found, four days on from a deadly landslide in the small Venezuelan town of Las Tejerías.

Residents from surrounding regions have arrived to help search through the thick mud and debris, as well as police, soldiers and sniffer dogs.

Forty-three people are confirmed to have died and more than 50 people are still missing.

But President Nicolás Maduro said the final death toll could reach 100.

Torrential rainfall caused the river El Pato to burst its banks on Saturday, causing floodwaters to wash away trees, cars, houses and shops in the town, some 50km south-west of the capital, Caracas.

Local media reports that more than 300 houses have been destroyed. The area has been declared a natural disaster zone.

Pictures show civilians side-by-side with soldiers, digging in the heat, desperately trying to find any survivors.

Nataly Matos, 34, is still trying to find her 65-year-old mother.

“We’re digging in the house because in her last call, she said she was drowning in the kitchen,” Ms Matos told news agencies.

“I don’t know whether to scream, I don’t know whether to run… whether to cry,” she said of the frustration in waiting for news.

Another local, Jackeline Guzman said: “As you can see, we lost everything – houses, people, children. We’re in pain for so many losses. It was so hard to build this all and now we’re left with nothing.”

On Tuesday several funerals were held, including for at least one child who died. Distressing pictures at the service show mourners collapsed from grief.

Rescue personnel works in Las Tejerias, Aragua state, which was hit by devastating floods following heavy rain, Venezuela, October 11Image source, Reuters
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Some 3,000 soldiers and police officers, as well as rescue volunteers are helping in the rescue effort

President Maduro visited the town on Monday, and vowed to rebuild “each and every home”.

“We take with us the pain, the clamour, the despair, the tears of the people, but they must know that Las Tejerías will rise like the phoenix, Las Tejerías will be reborn,” he said, quoted by AFP news agency.

On Twitter, he wrote that he has instructed the Vice President, Delcy Rodriguez, to double the number of machines and trucks in the area, to speed up the recovery and rebuild.

This is Venezuela’s worst natural disaster in decades. While the crisis-hit nation is used to heavy rainfall, Saturday’s deluge was unusually torrential, with a month’s worth of rain falling in the area in just eight hours, Ms Rodriguez said, as quoted by AFP.

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