Enormous landslide claims 400 homes in Bolivia
Capital evacuates 5,000 people as landslide swallows hundreds of homes
An enormous landslide in the Bolivian capital of La Paz has destroyed 400 homes, burying possessions and furniture under a slurry of mud.
There were no fatalities, but the landslide has displaced more than 5,000 people, including residents who live further downhill of the affected area. Residents began evacuating late Saturday when the hill, saturated after prolonged rains, began sliding and cracks appeared in streets and homes.
“My neighbors were running around and told me to get out,” said Maria Elena Siles, the mother of three adolescent children. “I looked out the window and there were no more homes to the left or the right of mine.”
Siles was able to flee before the hill collapsed entirely early Sunday.
Meanwhile, crews with heavy equipment were trying to keep the earth from backing up a river channel.
Defense Minister Ruben Saavedra said soldiers were mobilised to aid evacuation and recovery efforts.
A hilltop cemetery was split in two when an enormous crack opened in the ground.
Heavy rains are blamed for 44 deaths around the country in recent weeks.
Officials initially reported around 100 houses destroyed but later determined that 400 were wiped out over an area covering 200 to 250 acres (80 to 100 hectares).