Ecuador’s Risk Management Secretariat (SGR) has upgraded the landslide risk in La Cría from yellow to orange, as cracks in the ground continue to expand. While the yellow designation indicates “serious risk” and urges evacuation, the yellow alert indicates a landslide is imminent.
SGR said the change in designation was the result of heavy rains that continue to destabilize hillsides in La Cría, about 60 kilometers southwest of Cuenca.
On Thursday, Risk Managers said they were concerned about the large number of residents who are returning to their property in the risk zone during the day. “Most of them are not spending the night in their homes but are going back during daylight hours to tend to livestock and to remove belongings,” an SGR agent said. “With the increase in risk, we are asking residents to stay away from their property.”
In addition to recent rainfall, SGR says other factors have “converged” to increase the landslide risk. “Because of earth dislocation, the streams that flowed in the upper hillsides have been disrupted, sending water underground or over previously dry areas,” SGR said in a statement. “In addition, the outflow from the private septic systems has been altered, creating new flow patterns.” The statement added that breaks in irrigation canals have also increased risks.
SGR says that most of the 178 people living in La Cría have evacuated their homes during the night, with 37 families living at a shelter in San Isidro. Others have moved in with friends and family in Santa Isabel and Cuenca. The La Cría risk area covers about 520 hectares, about twice the size of that of the Alausi landslide.
Twenty kilometers from La Cría, a new landslide in San José de Zapata, near Girón, destroyed three homes and severely damaged six others Thursday morning. SGR is urging residents of 20 other homes to evacuate immediately due earth instability. As in La Cría, SGR says heavy rains are to blame for the landslide and say a larger slide is possible.
Meanwhile, residents of the Oro Rosa sector of Tarqui, 12 kilometers south of Cuenca, report large fissures opening on surrounding hillsides. A spokesman for the parish council says that nine homes and other structures are at risk.