22 dead, more than 50 missing in Venezuela landslide

Around a thousand people had joined the rescue efforts. PHOTO: AFP
A resident walks past a car washed away by a landslide in Tejerias. PHOTO: AFP
A resident participates in the search for his missing relatives in the rubble of a house destroyed by the landslide. PHOTO: AFP

LAS TEJERIAS, Venezuela - A landslide in central Venezuela left at least 22 people dead and more than 50 missing after heavy rains caused a river to overflow, Vice-President Delcy Rodriguez said Sunday.

"We are seeing very significant damage here, human losses: so far, we have already found 22 dead, there are more than 52 people missing. We are working to find these people," Rodriguez told local media at the scene in the town of Las Tejerias.

AFP journalists saw houses and businesses destroyed and felled trees in the streets, which were covered with mud and debris.

Around a thousand people had joined the rescue efforts, Interior and Justice Minister Remigio Ceballos Ichaso told AFP, as he also worked at the site.

"The village is lost. Las Tejerias is lost," 55-year-old resident Carmen Melendez, who has lived her whole life in the town 50 kilometres from the capital Caracas, told AFP.

The landslide, caused by the biggest river flood in the area in 30 years, is the worst so far this year in Venezuela, which has seen historic rain levels in recent months.

In 1999, huge landslides killed some 10,000 people in the state of Vargas, north of Caracas. AFP

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