Dozens of houses have been destroyed in a landslide in the Bolivian capital of La Paz, displacing hundreds of residents, according to city authorities.
Dramatic footage shows entire brick homes caving into clouds of dust and toppling down a hillside, as locals fled carrying children and pets. Emergency services managed to evacuate the neighborhood before the worst of the collapse, averting casualties.
However, rescue workers were searching for one missing person, the municipal secretary for social development, Rosmery Acarapi, told media on Wednesday, May 1, in footage posted to the city government’s Twitter account.
Forty-six homes collapsed completely and another 18 suffered damage, officials said.
The city’s mayor, Luis Revilla, later told a press conference that 88 families—380 individuals—had been forced out of their homes and were in need of aid.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do, there are a number of people affected in the area,” one evacuee, Marina Muñoz, told the Reuters news agency. “I don’t know what we’re going to do, please help us.”
The landslide followed heavy rains on Tuesday, while Revilla said the location of the San Jorge Kantutani neighborhood on a former landfill site had also contributed to its instability.
“We know—like you can see by looking behind me—that this is the former landfill of Sopocachi,” he said at the scene. “We have a lot of trash in this place. This, coupled with the (rain’s) water, led to the extremely rapid landslide.”
On Wednesday, as teams of structural engineers and geologists were dispatched to inspect the area, the city hall appealed for donations to help those affected.
¡#LaPazUnida trabaja para sobresalir a los momentos sensibles!
Más de 500 ediles ayudan en el rescate de enseres de una vivienda al borde de la plataforma deslizada de la avenida Libertad. pic.twitter.com/e7IPjltDy7
— La Paz Alcaldía (@LaPazAlcaldia) May 1, 2019
Evacuees were in need of mattresses and bedding, basic foodstuffs, diapers for babies and hygiene products, officials said.
Sitting at an altitude of nearly 12,000 feet (3,600 meters), La Paz is the highest capital in the world. Known as “the mountain city” and nestled amid dizzying peaks, many of its neighborhoods are perched precariously on steep slopes. Landslides are not uncommon, particularly in poorer areas, which are often built on unsuitable ground.