Ecuadorians mourn landslide victims, death toll rises
STORY: Relatives and neighbors on Tuesday mourned lives lost in a landslide that hit the small town of Alausi in Ecuador late Sunday night.
Victims were laid to rest as authorities announced a rising official death toll.
Rescuers racing to find those still missing were joined by family digging where they believe loved ones may be -- after tons of mud overtook their homes.
Yolanda Marcatoma is among family hoping for closure.
“All the bad luck has found my family, but others don’t even have their families (eds note: referring to the bodies of other landslide victims). They are still under the dirt, so I beg they help look for them and find all the people so they may be given a Christian burial.”
President Guillermo Lasso on Monday night offered to extend the rescue operation to find those missing when he visited the affected area.
Government data shows dozens of people have been rescued but there are fears more landslides could be triggered.
As a precaution, hundreds of homes have been ordered to evacuate and head to emergency centers.
Cristian Torres is Ecuador’s Risk Management Secretary.
“We have an important center here to connect the rescue and search teams with the community, so they can help guide the operations. The community knows the area best and they can help with the search and rescue works.”
Ecuador's disaster agency in February had warned of potential landslide danger for Alausi, which included part of the area where Sunday's landslide hit.
President Lasso last week declared an emergency in 14 provinces because of the weather and an earthquake on March 18.