Heavy rain causes more landslides and floods, destroying homes and blocking roadways

Mar 13, 2016

Landslides and flooding from over-night showers Saturday and Sunday overwhelmed local emergency services, according to Cuenca firefighters. “We are working as fast as we can but we have many, many calls,” said Juan Miller, spokesmen for the fire department.

Landslide threatens house north of Cuenca. Credit: El Mercurio

Landslide threatens house north of Cuenca. El Mercurio

Afternoon rains on Saturday triggered landslides in more than a dozen locations, destroying three homes and threatening a dozen others. Hardest hit were areas off the Panamerica highway, north of the city, and in the Cajas Mountains foothills, west of town.

A transportation office official said that road blockages as a result of landslides, “were too numerous to mention.” He said assessment teams were preparing to go out Sunday morning to monitor the situation. “All motorists should drive with extreme caution because of mud and rocks on the highways. They should also be prepared for the fact that roads might be blocked entirely.”

Cuenca rivers, which were running at only slightly elevated levels on Saturday, were at or near overflow by Sunday mornings and police were warning residents to stay away from river banks. Minor flooding was repoted on the rios Machángara and Yanuncay.

Outside of Cuenca, landslides and flooding was reported in a number of cantons, including Santa Isabel and Paute.

Since Wednesday, the rains have caused power and water service outages affecting several thousand users in Cuenca.

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