Tales of survival emerge as Venezuela landslide toll hits 34

Oct 10, 2022, 1:50 AM | Updated: 5:52 pm

A man carries a container with potable water from a broken pipe connected to a well, to distribute ...

A man carries a container with potable water from a broken pipe connected to a well, to distribute to the community after a landslide ripped through Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. The fatal landslide was fueled by days of torrential rain and floods that swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

(AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

LAS TEJERIAS, Venezuela (AP) — Rescue workers using drones and trained dogs searched for survivors Monday following a massive landslide in central Venezuela, as the death toll rose to 34 and residents described harrowing tales of escape from the water and mud.

Jose Medina recalled how the water streaming into his home in the town of Las Tejerías on Saturday night had reached waist level. He and his family were trapped, he realized.

So the 63-year-old turned his refrigerator sideways, opened its door and used it as a boat for his granddaughter. Meanwhile he held on to the fridge with his wife, and pinned it to a table so that the strong currents of water would not push them downstream.

Medina described their survival as a “miracle.”

“I’m happy that we’re alive but I’m also sad,” said the retired construction worker who lost his home and all of his belongings.

His plight began when torrential rains caused by Hurricane Julia unleashed mudslides and floods that destroyed several mountainside neighborhoods in Las Tejerias.

On Monday, Venezuelan officials said at least 34 people died in the flooding and 60 are missing following the worst natural disaster to hit the cash-strapped South American country in recent years.

In Las Tejerias, a city of 50,000 people located along Venezuela’s main industrial corridor, crews were using heavy machinery to clear debris from neighborhoods whose streets were still blocked with mud. Meanwhile rescue workers used drones and dogs to find people buried under the debris.

“We are still hoping to find people that can be saved” said Vice President Delcy Rodriguez as she toured one of the neighborhoods affected by the mudslides.

For those who survived, the country’s dire economic situation will make recovery more challenging.

Medina said his pension – which is pegged to Venezuela’s monthly minimum wage – is worth just $17 a month. Now he will depend on government assistance to survive, but added that he considers himself lucky that he did not lose relatives in the mudslide.

Venezuelan authorities said 317 homes in Las Tejerias were wiped out by the mudslide and another 750 homes sustained damage.

Residents said they only had minutes to leave their homes late Saturday, as the avalanche of mud, rocks and tree logs swept over several hillside neighborhoods in the city.

Some people were praying at an evangelical church when the mudslide occurred, while others were at a children’s party residents said. Several children are among the missing.

Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro on Sunday declared three days of mourning for the victims and sent rescue workers to Las Tejerias, which lies along a highway that connects Caracas to the industrial city of Valencia. Maduro said that 11 states in the country sustained damage from floods over the weekend.


Associated Press writer Jorge Rueda contributed from Caracas

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Early phases of Iran's drone attack against Israel. (Photo: Getty Images)...

Associated Press

The Latest | Iran launches its first direct military attack against Israel

Iran launched its first full-scale military attack against Israel on Saturday, sending drones toward Israel.

17 hours ago

Early phases of Iran's drone attack against Israel. (Photo: Getty Images)...

Associated Press

BREAKING: White House confirms Iran drone attacks towards Israel

JERUSALEM (AP) — The White House says it will provide unspecified support for Israel’s defense against an ongoing airborne attack from Iran. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a Saturday statement that “Iran has begun an airborne attack against Israel.” She added: “The United States will stand with the people of Israel and […]

18 hours ago

Image: O.J. Simpson attends his parole hearing at Lovelock Correctional Center July 20, 2017 in Lov...

Associated Press

O.J. Simpson, fallen football hero acquitted of murder in ‘trial of the century,’ dies at 76

O.J. Simpson, the former NFL star and Hollywood actor who was acquitted of charges he killed his ex-wife and her friend has died at 76.

3 days ago

Southwest Airlines boeing...

Associated Press

An engine cover on a Southwest Airlines plane rips off, forcing the flight to return to Denver

A Southwest Airlines jet, a Boeing 737, returned to Denver Sunday morning after the engine cover fell off and struck the wing flap during takeoff.

6 days ago

Image: The late Careaga family....

Associated Press

3 found guilty in 2017 quadruple killing of Washington family

A jury has found three men guilty of killing a family in Washington in 2017, crimes detectives asserted happened over drugs and money.

8 days ago

The logo for Boeing appears on a screen above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exc...

Associated Press

Boeing’s CEO got compensation worth nearly $33M last year but lost a $3M bonus

Boeing's CEO got around $33 million in compensation, nearly all of it in stock awards, but his stock payout for this year will be cut.

9 days ago

Tales of survival emerge as Venezuela landslide toll hits 34