At least six missing as homes buried in Peru landslide

Published March 16, 2022, 6:22 AM

by Agence-France-Presse

LIMA, Peru — A landslide on Tuesday in the northern Peruvian town of Retamas has buried dozens of homes and trapped at least 15 people, according to authorities.

View of a landslide of stone and mud that buried dozens of houses in Retamas town, Parcoy district northern Peru on March 15, 2022. At least 15 people are trapped and six missing, although it is feared that the numbers will increase. STR / AFP

A video circulating on social media shows the hill’s collapse, and the person filming can be heard screaming “No! God! It’s all buried.”

Manuel Llempen, the governor of the La Libertad region where Retamas is located, told RPP radio that “the landslide has buried, according to the preliminary report, approximately 60 to 80 houses.”

“They are completely buried,” he added.

The landslide occurred around 8:30 local time (1330 GMT) and, according to Peru’s National Emergency Operations Center (COEN), there are currently six people missing, among them three children.

A COEN official, Rolando Capucho, noted that 15 people are also trapped in the rubble.

He said the numbers are not final and could rise.

“It is presumed, from information given to us by the villagers, that there are more people [trapped and missing], but COEN only works with official information,” he told RPP radio.

“We have six missing people, among them three children and three adults,” the director of risk management in Peru’s Ministry of Health, Dr. Jorge Luis Escobar, told the N television network.

Retamas sits high in the Andes, at about 2,800 meters (9,000 ft).

– “Left us with nothing” –
Retamas, a mining town high in the Andes, is a 16-hour drive from the regional capital of Trujillo on the Pacific coast.

“I was able to get out in time, but my house was buried. The landslide left us with nothing,” Ledy Leiva, who escaped with five other members of her family, told RPP radio.

Several people buried in the mud and rock were rescued by neighbors who drilled through their roofs and walls, local media reported.

“There are many people trapped […] inside their houses,” Governor Llempen said.

Peruvian President Pedro Castillo promised his government’s support for the affected families.

“I have ordered the head of INDECI [Civil Defense] and the Minister of Defense to go to the area affected by the landslide,” Castillo said in a social media post.

Defense Minister Jose Gavidia announced he will travel to Retamas with a rapid response team from INDECI.

“We will provide all the necessary help to the affected families,” he promised.

In 2009, at least 13 people were killed in Retamas by another landslide, including one child.

“This place has already been identified as a high-risk zone,” warned Miguel Yamazaki, INDECI’s director of preparedness.

Landslides occur most often in Peru’s Andean region during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer months, which are the country’s rainy season.