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Landslide triggered by worst flooding in years kills at least 18 in Ecuador

Ecuador Landslide
Rescue workers carry away the body of a victim after flash flooding triggered by rain collapsed a hillside, bringing waves of mud over homes in the La Gasca area of Quito, Ecuador, February 1, 2022. Dolores Ochoa/AP

Quito — The heaviest flooding to hit Ecuador in two decades has killed at least 18 people in Quito, washing away cars, damaging homes and sweeping away volleyball players and spectators on a sports field, officials said Tuesday.

Sixteen people have been reported missing and 46 injured, six of them critically, Ecuador's SNGRE emergency service said on Twitter. 

Torrents of water carrying stones and mud swept down an avenue in the Ecuadorian city, washing away cars and flooding houses and streets, according to images released by the emergency services.

The torrential downpour sent a deadly stream down a nearby hillside onto a sports ground where several people were practicing, authorities said at a virtual press conference.

Ecuador Landslide
Residents and soldiers work to clear mud from streets after a rain-weakened hillside collapsed and brought waves of mud over La Gasca area of Quito, Ecuador, February 1, 2022. Dolores Ochoa/AP

The flood began on the slopes of the Pichincha volcano, which overlooks the nation's capital.

Guarderas said Monday's rainfall brought down 75 liters per square meter following 3.5 liters on Saturday, with the forecast predicting two liters per square meter.

This is "a record figure, which we have not had since 2003," he added.

The affected area also lost power after electrical poles were brought down by the deluge.

Heavy rains have hit 22 of Ecuador's 24 provinces since October, leaving at least 18 dead and 24 injured, according to the National Risk Management Service.

Scientists say climate change is intensifying the risk of heavy rain around the world because a warmer atmosphere holds more water.

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