Heavy rains inundate 10 provinces; Activity increases at Sangay and Cotopaxi volcanoes; More anti-crime marches; Vigilantes capture, kill an innocent man

Apr 24, 2023 | 31 comments

Heavy weekend rain has washed out roads and bridges and flooded hundreds of homes and businesses. Although Guayas, Esmeraldas and Manabí Provinces suffered the most extensive damage, risk management officials say “extensive flooding” has occurred in at least 10 provinces.

“We are experiencing unprecedented amounts of rainfall which has overwhelmed emergency services in many communities and we are anticipating more in the coming days,” the Risk Management Secretariat said Sunday. “The coastal provinces have been most affected but strong storms are occurring in the sierra and Amazonia as well.”

One of many coastal highways washed out by weekend flooding.

Dozens of families were forced to evacuate their homes near the Rio Esmeraldas and the Rio Daule, east of Portoviejo. In Guayas Province, six cantons reported severe flooding and landslides and local officials say the opening of the school year will be delayed in several communities as a result.

Risk management reports that highway flooding near Guayaquil is affecting bus schedules as well as the truck deliveries.

In a Sunday bulletin, Ecuador’s meteorology office said heavy rain will continue through Tuesday or Wednesday. “Many regions of the country have received double the seasonal rainfall through the third week of April,” meteorologists said. “This is the result, in part, of the rapid temperature rise in the Pacific Ocean as we transition from La Niña to El Niño conditions.”

Sangay and Cotopaxi volcano activity increases
Weekend explosions at the Sangay and Cotopaxi volcanoes have spread ash over broad areas and put local communities on alert.

The activity at Sangay sent a gas and ash cloud more than 8,000 meters into the atmosphere, resulting in what risk management officials call “moderate to heavy” ashfall in Chimborazo, Bolívar and Los Ríos Provinces. The Geophysical Institute reported that the series of explosions also created lava flows down the sides of the mountain.

Near Cotopaxi, light ashfall was recorded in Cotopaxi and Pichincha Provinces. On Saturday night, the Geophysical institute reported small lahars of ice and rock flowing down the western flank of the volcano and said a road in Cotopaxi National Park was covered with debris. Park officials say heavy snow and rainfall on the mountain contributed to the lahars.

Cuenca anti-crime march planned for Friday
Dozens of Cuenca neighborhoods are joining forces for a massive “march against crime” on Friday, April 28. “We will march in force and there will be thousands of us,” says Wilson Jácome, president-elect of the Baños parish council. “We are sending a message to the government that we need help but also preparing to take care of ourselves and to punish the thieves and vaccinators on our streets.”

Thousands of residents of Cuenca barrios and parishes protested against rising crime over the weekend.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, there were at least eight neighborhood and parish anti-crime protests, the largest attracting 5,000 in El Valle. Dozens of signs have been erected in the city with warnings that thieves and extortionists will be captured and punished.

Social media posts showed new signs being erected Saturday in the Don Bosco and Tres Puentes neighborhoods.

In at least two rural parishes, leaders announced that “indigenous justice” will be meted out to criminals. “This is our right under the constitution and justice will be fair but harsh for those who are caught,” said Gualalcay community leader Juan Chorro.

Friday’s march will begin at 3 p.m. at San Blas Plaza and end at Parque Calderon.

Neighborhood captures and kills an innocent man
An informal trash recycler, mistaken for a thief, was beaten and burned alive Thursday in Santo Domingo. National Police are broadcasting details of the death on social media as a warning to neighborhoods who are capturing and punishing suspected thieves and extortionists.

“This is the tragic result of mistaken identity and shows why residents should not take the law into their own hands,” the social media post says. The post was accompanied by a photo of the victim and his wife. “It is acceptable to detain suspects of criminal activity but they should not be punished before police arrive to take them into custody,” police said.

The post added: “In these cases, those who injure or kill innocent people will be prosecuted.

According to the post, the man and his wife had collected plastic and cardboard for more than 20 years in a Santo Domingo barrio. The couple lived on the income they earned from the sale of the recyclable materials, police said.

The police report said the victim was surrounded by a small crowd and tied to a utility pole where he was beaten and burned. Three men who left the scene on motorcycles are the chief suspects in the murder.

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