LA PAZ – The collapse of a highway northwest of the Bolivian capital of La Paz on Saturday killed at least 11 people and around 20 are confirmed injured, Bolivia’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday.
“To date, 11 people have died and around 20 have been injured,” an official note quoting Defense Minister Javier Zavaleta said.
The statement also indicates that it is believed that there may be more victims of the event and that their rescue will take “a few more days,” as it is suspected that some vehicles remain under the mud, without specifying the exact number.
“According to the perception of the authorities, the rescue of possible other bodies and vehicles buried under the tons of earth and mud will take a few more days,” the statement added.
The collapse occurred on Saturday morning when a large block of earth, soaked with water after recent rains collapsed under the road affecting several vehicles in a sector called Puente Armas.
The road connects La Paz with the town of Caranavi some 161 kilometers away and the incident happened in an area with a humid and subtropical climate.
Most of the wounded were evacuated to the town of Coroico, 102 kilometers from La Paz, while others in a more fragile condition were transferred to hospitals in the Bolivian capital, local media reported.
“At least 150 military personnel were dispatched to the area of the landslide to support the rescue work with the police and firemen,” says the bulletin.
“There are several institutions in La Paz and Los Yungas, including Civil Defense and immediate response teams, as well as military personnel from the three forces that are working on the evacuation of families in those municipalities in danger of landslides in the departments of La Paz and Beni,” the Ministry of Defense said in the statement.
Minister Zavaleta said the rains affected several municipalities, mainly in the departments of La Paz and the northern region of Beni such as Guanay, Alto Beni, Palos Blancos Coroico, Reyes, San Borja and parts of Trinidad and Riberalta.
According to the Ministry of Defense, the rains are expected to continue during February and parts of March in different regions of Bolivia.