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Ecuador landslides affect thousands

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | June 14, 2001

Several days of heavy rain across Ecuador flooded rivers and triggered deadly landslides that have left at least 40 people dead, according to reports from the Ecuador government.

The worst landslide occurred in the province of Napo, where 38 people died. They were gathered in a makeshift shelter after an earlier landslide blocked the highway when a new landslide cascaded directly onto the shelter. Only three people survived.

Many highways were still blocked Thursday by landslides, and the rain was

still falling. Two other people drowned in floodwaters, and at least 13 more

are missing. Rescue crews Thursday trying to recover bodies buried in

landslides were cautioned that new landslides were posing high danger.

Communication to the area has been difficult due to downed phone lines.

The Ecuadoran government, Ecuadoran Red Cross, and local churches were

attempting to offer relief to thousands of people who have been left homeless

by flooding and landslides. At least 400 homes have been destroyed. When

rivers overflowed their banks in the southern and eastern Andes and

Amazon regions, many areas -- even those accustomed to a serious rainy

season -- experienced flooding.

Some 2,500 people remained evacuated Thursday, and the government

declared a state of emergency in several provinces. The government reported

that crop damage was substantial. Forecasters predicted that rains would

continue through July but would be less heavy.

A 200-metre stretch of the country's only oil pipeline was destroyed by

another landslide last week, spilling some 10,000 barrels of oil.

Movements of crude oil, Ecuador's main export, were still cut Thursday.

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