5 dead, 15 missing as landslide sweeps through Chilean town of Santa Lucia

SANTIAGO – On Saturday morning, intense rains in the Los Lagos region caused a flood in the vicinity of Villa Santa Lucia in the southern Chilean province of Palena.

Regional authorities confirmed Four Chileans and a male tourist whose name and nationality have not been disclosed were died in the mudslide while 15 others were missing. More than a third of the town was destroyed.

The Undersecretary of the Interior, Mahmud Aleuy, informed the press that the first two fatalities are a 68-year-old woman and a 35-year-old man, adding that three wounded were taken by helicopter to the city of Chaitén, some 80 kilometers away.

In the afternoon the governor-governor of the region, Leonardo de la Prida, reported a third death without giving further details.

Among those missing is the carabinero Víctor Chavarría Acuña, 22, who was guarding the school in the area, which was to function tomorrow as a voting precinct in the second round of the presidential elections, as explained by Petty Officer Patricio Ferrada Muñoz, head of the premises of Villa Santa Lucia in the electoral framework.

The director of the Onemi, Ricardo Toro, underlined the information issued by President Michelle Bachelet, which confirms that the Government has already deployed protocols to mitigate the emergency.

The landslide occurred at 9:20 local time (12.20 GMT), and affected, according to the authorities, the northern area of the town, where the school, a military compound and housing, which would comprise more than 35% of the total area of the town, in which about 300 people live.

In addition, it was announced that, along with the alluvium, there was a fire that affected 8 homes and the accesses to the villa remain blocked.

More than 4.5in (11.4cm) of rain fell in 24 hours, the country’s interior ministry said, but weather conditions were expected to improve later in the day.

In her account of the social network Twitter, the president confirmed that “the government, through protocols and emergency agencies, is already working to address the affected” and was “very concerned about the situation.”

Thirty soldiers, twenty carabineros, two fire trucks, two ambulances and various authorities of the region, headed by the intendant De la Prida have been dispatched to the affected area.

Villa Santa Lucia remains without electricity and without a telephone signal.

Villa Santa Lucia borders Chile’s Corcovado national park, a popular tourist region of volcanoes, fjords and vast forests.