In a possible preview of new El Niño, 500 people are evacuated in Esmeraldas flooding

Jun 5, 2023 | 2 comments

In what could be a preview of the new El Niño weather phenomenon, more than 500 people were evacuated from their homes in northern Ecuador on Sunday. Although no one was reported dead or missing, many homes are feared damaged beyond repair.

Dozens of Esmeraldas residents wait to be rescued from an upper floor of a hotel following flooding rains Saturday and Sunday.

Dozens of residents climbed onto the rooftops or balconies of their homes to protect themselves from the rising waters, according to images released by the Ministry of Defense.

The rain had fallen for 12 hours without interruption, causing six area rivers to overflow, Lasso said. Dozens of landslides, triggered by the storms, were reported, leaving extensive property damage.

“The priority is to save their lives — let’s protect them! We have already rescued 500 people and the work continues,” President Guillermo Lasso wrote on Twitter.

Authorities evacuated around 500 people by boat and another 30 by helicopter, the Risk Management Secretariat said.
Around 11,750 people were affected by the floods and 16 lost their homes in the province of Esmeraldas, which borders Colombia.

Classes were suspended in the province where an unknown number of schools were damaged.
Five health clinics were also affected.

Between January and May, 36 people have been killed and more than 99,000 were affected across Ecuador.

Ecuador’s national weather service is concerned that the Esmeraldas flooding is the result of a rapidly forming El Niño in the Pacific Ocean. In a statement last week it warned coastal cities, including Esmeraldas, that flooding rains are likely through the remainder of the year.

“El Niño will have the most dramatic impact on coastal locations and we ask local authorities to be prepared,” the weather service said in a statement. It noted that the 1998 El Niño caused billions of dollars in damage and left some communities isolated for months while roads were cleared and rebuilt following landslides.”

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