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Streets are flooded after heavy rains caused a river to overflow in Las Tejerias Matias Delacroix/AP

At least 22 dead in landslide that swept through Venezuelan town

The landslide teared through the central Venezuelan town of Las Tejerias.

A LANDSLIDE FUELED by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through a town in central Venezuela, leaving at least 22 people dead as it dragged mud, rocks and trees through neighbourhoods.

Residents of Las Tejerias in Santos Michelena, an agro-industrial town in Aragua state 54 miles south-west of Caracas, had just seconds to reach safety as debris swept down a mountainside on to them.

The official death toll rose to 22 after the recovery of 20 bodies on Sunday, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez told state-owned Venezolana de Television.

“There was a large landslide in the central area of Las Tejerias” where five streams overflowed, she said from the scene of the disaster. “We have already found 22 dead people, there are more than 52 missing.”

“There are still people walled in,” Ms Rodriguez said. “We are trying to rescue them, to rescue them alive.”

She said shelters will be set up for people who lost their homes.

embedded269205537 Jose Medina jumps out of his home which was flooded by the overflow of a ravine caused by intense rains in Las Tejerias, Venezuela

Carlos Perez Ampueda, the vice minister for risk management and civil protection, said rescuers were carrying out search operations with trained dogs and drones. Crews of workers and heavy machinery removed debris to clear roads and restore electricity and water services.

Aragua governor Karina Carpio said the flood waters “terribly affected” 21 sectors in Las Tejerias, capital of the Santos Michelena municipality, which has some 54,000 inhabitants.

During the past week, torrential rains have caused flooding in 11 of Venezuela’s 23 states.

President Nicolas Maduro said 20.000 officials, including rescuers and members of security forces, have been deployed to affected regions.

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