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)

              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)
            
              A man fills containers 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)
            
              Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, center, visits the area flooded in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and first lady Cilia Flores visit the area flooded in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              Lawmaker Diosdado Cabello, center right with face mask, tells Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro where to walk during a visit the area flooded in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, center, and first lady Cilia Flores, left, visit the area flooded in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, center, and First Lady Cilia Flores, left, talks to the victims as the visit the area damaged during the flood in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              Locals cheers Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro as he visits the flood damaged area in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              A man carries a woman with a water container on a motorcycle, as a truck full of volunteers drives by on the way to help with the recovery 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)
            
              View of Las Tejerias after a landslide and flood ripped through the town in 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)
            
              Locals begin to rocover after a landslide and flood ripped through Las Tejerias in 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)
            
              Men carry clothes and a barrel with water after a landslide and flood ripped through Las Tejerias in 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)
            
              Erika Quintero stands in her home that was damaged after a landslide and flood ripped through Las Tejerias in 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)
            
              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)
            
              A man fills containers 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)
            
              Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, center, visits the area flooded in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and first lady Cilia Flores visit the area flooded in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              Lawmaker Diosdado Cabello, center right with face mask, tells Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro where to walk during a visit the area flooded in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, center, and first lady Cilia Flores, left, visit the area flooded in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, center, and First Lady Cilia Flores, left, talks to the victims as the visit the area damaged during the flood in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              Locals cheers Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro as he visits the flood damaged area in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              A man carries a woman with a water container on a motorcycle, as a truck full of volunteers drives by on the way to help with the recovery 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)
            
              View of Las Tejerias after a landslide and flood ripped through the town in 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)
            
              Locals begin to rocover after a landslide and flood ripped through Las Tejerias in 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)
            
              Men carry clothes and a barrel with water after a landslide and flood ripped through Las Tejerias in 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)
            
              Erika Quintero stands in her home that was damaged after a landslide and flood ripped through Las Tejerias in 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)
            
              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)
            
              A man fills containers 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)
            
              Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, center, visits the area flooded in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and first lady Cilia Flores visit the area flooded in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              Lawmaker Diosdado Cabello, center right with face mask, tells Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro where to walk during a visit the area flooded in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, center, and first lady Cilia Flores, left, visit the area flooded in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, center, and First Lady Cilia Flores, left, talks to the victims as the visit the area damaged during the flood in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              Locals cheers Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro as he visits the flood damaged area in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              A man carries a woman with a water container on a motorcycle, as a truck full of volunteers drives by on the way to help with the recovery 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)
            
              View of Las Tejerias after a landslide and flood ripped through the town in 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)
            
              Locals begin to rocover after a landslide and flood ripped through Las Tejerias in 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)
            
              Men carry clothes and a barrel with water after a landslide and flood ripped through Las Tejerias in 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)
            
              Erika Quintero stands in her home that was damaged after a landslide and flood ripped through Las Tejerias in 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)
            
              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)
            
              A man fills containers 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)
            
              Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, center, visits the area flooded in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and first lady Cilia Flores visit the area flooded in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              Lawmaker Diosdado Cabello, center right with face mask, tells Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro where to walk during a visit the area flooded in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, center, and first lady Cilia Flores, left, visit the area flooded in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, center, and First Lady Cilia Flores, left, talks to the victims as the visit the area damaged during the flood in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              Locals cheers Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro as he visits the flood damaged area in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              A man carries a woman with a water container on a motorcycle, as a truck full of volunteers drives by on the way to help with the recovery 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)
            
              View of Las Tejerias after a landslide and flood ripped through the town in 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)
            
              Locals begin to rocover after a landslide and flood ripped through Las Tejerias in 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)
            
              Men carry clothes and a barrel with water after a landslide and flood ripped through Las Tejerias in 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)
            
              Erika Quintero stands in her home that was damaged after a landslide and flood ripped through Las Tejerias in 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)
            
              A dog barks from a flooded hardware store in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              A person points to a list of names of people, affected by flooding, who were checked into a community center where they are given first aid or transported to another city for medical treatment, in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. The bodies of victims are also brought here, after a fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              The body of seven-year-old Angel Senprum is brought to a community health center amid flooding in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              Residents survey the damage after deadly flooding in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              Carmen Fuentes stands in the home she shares with her husband Jose Medina and family after it was flooded in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              Lawmaker Diosdado Cabello shakes hands with a resident affected by flooding as he and Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, bottom left in blue, visit the area flooded in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)
            
              Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, center, visits the area flooded in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Monday, Oct. 10, 2022. A fatal landslide fueled by flooding and days of torrential rain swept through this town in central Venezuela. (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.

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Tales of survival emerge as Venezuela landslide toll hits 34