Intense rains have led to flooding that has taken the lives of at least 20 people

At least 20 people have died in the Western Venezuelan state of Merida following intense rains.

The rain has led to mudslides and has caused rivers to overflow. 

On state TV, a ruling Socialist Party official in Merida announced the death toll had risen and said authorities were working to restore telephone service in the area. 

State governor Ramon Guevara said that more than 1,200 houses had been destroyed and 17 people remained missing

80 firefighters and 60 Civil Protection officials from Merida have been deployed for emergency operations in addition to members of the armed forces stationed in the area.

A member of the Democratic Action opposition party Guevara requested “not to make this political or ideological,” 

He instead urged everyone to look for solutions. 

The opposition member also said that several towns in the affected area including Tovar, Bailadores, Zea, and Santa Cruz de Mora are without electricity as floodwaters damaged transformers.

Guevara instructed officials to organize a humanitarian aid collection post in Merida’s city center where they are receiving contributions of water, non-perishable food, clothing, and blankets. Guevara also deployed health workers to the hardest-hit places.

President Nicolas Maduro on Tuesday said Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami had guaranteed fuel for the rescue efforts.

Interior Minister Remigio Ceballos told state TV on Wednesday that at least 54,543 people in 87 municipalities had been affected in addition to damaged roads and bridges. He said the states that remain in a state of emergency were Merida, Tachira, Zulia, Apure, Amazonas, Bolivar, Delta Amacuro, Monagas and Aragua.

Images shared on social media showed cars being swept down streets, buildings and businesses filled with mud, and mudslides that left boulders strewn across roads.


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