In what officials say is the “deadliest flooding in years,” at least 14 have died and 36 others were injured in northern Quito Monday night. Meteorologists warn that more rain in expected on Tuesday.
Most of the deaths and injuries occurred in Quito’s La Gasca sector, where some streets were three meters deep in water before flooding subsided. Rescue workers say that several people died and were injured in their homes and cars.
According to Quito Mayor Santiago Guarderas, rescue crews were continuing to search for victims early Tuesday morning. “This is a terrible tragedy and we will maintain our efforts until all the victims are found or rescued.”
The mayor said that property damage is extensive and electric, water and sewer service have been suspended in most of the affected areas. “Electric poles were knocked down by the force of the flooding and we understand there was at least one death resulting from electric shock,” Guarderas said. “Street pavement has been torn up, damaging water lines as well as sewage pipes. It may be days before we know the full extent of the damage.”
The national Risk Management office said that 60 army troops were assisting in rescue and clean-up efforts Monday night, in addition to fire department and police personnel, many of whom are off-duty.
The Quito Transit Authority said that traffic on several major thoroughfares, including Av. Mariscal Sucre, Av. Mariana de Jesus and Av. Americas, has been rerouted due to the flooding.
In a Tuesday morning press conference, Guarderas said the flood was a result of a dam collapse at a reservoir on the Rio El Tejado. He said the heavy rain casued a landslide into the reservoir, causing the dam to burst.
Ecuador’s Meteorology Service said the flooding rains were the result of an unseasonable flow of moisture off the Pacific Ocean. It said the moisture is expected to remain over northern sections of the country Tuesday but will spread southward Tuesday.