In a visit to Cuenca on Monday, Vice President Alfredo Borrero said the government would provide funds to families who lost their homes as a result of Sunday’s landslide in Sayausí. “We will help those who lost everything in this disaster and will work hard to reopen the highway and roads that have been blocked by debris,” he said at a news conference with Minister of Transportation Marcelo Cabrera.
Borrero added that he feels a personal responsibility in assisting the victims. “Like Minister Cabrera, I am a native of Cuenca and have deep roots in this area.”
According to Cuenca Mayor Pedro Palacios, the death toll of the landslide remains four although one man is still not accounted for. A total of nine homes and 15 outbuildings were destroyed in the disaster triggered by heavy rains, the mayor said. In addition, at least 17 cars and trucks were destroyed or damaged.
Late Monday, city utility company ETAPA reported that almost all drinking water service had been restored but said there could be brief interruptions during the week to repair damage caused by the landslide. Early Tuesday, however, it reported that service to several thousand homes had been disconnected due to contamination at the Cebollar purification plant near Sayausí.
ETAPA advised that some customers may notice discoloration of water but said it is safe to drink.
Cabrera said that workers and equipment are starting to clear the Cajas highway of mud and rocks but said work was slowed by more rain Monday. “Besides clearing the roadway, we will have to stabilize the slope above it to prevent future events,” he said. “This is an emergency operation so we will work as quickly as possible,” adding that cannot yet predict when the highway will reopen.