Dozens Killed After Floods in Venezuela
Venezuela is currently recovering from a disastrous flood in the city of Las Tejerias. At least 54 people died in floods on October 8 and three more people were found dead in the central Venezuelan state of Aragua, reports Reuters. Many also remained missing as rescue crews searched the wreckage of homes and buildings in the city. The El Pato River flooded as a result of torrential rain. Trees, automobiles, residences, and shops were all destroyed by the ensuing flooding in the town, which is located around 87 kilometers, or about 50 miles, southwest of the capital city of Caracas.
Late at night on Saturday October 8, as mud, rocks and trees tore through the streets and homes, residents of Las Tejerias had only a few seconds to get to safety. Vice President Delcy Rodriguez lamented the loss of life in Las Tejerias as authorities set up shelters and rescue teams were deployed to pull survivors from the wreckage, reports Al Jazeera. She stated that about a month’s worth of rain had fallen in just eight hours. As military and rescue officials searched the riverbanks for survivors, Rodriguez said the primary goal of the rescuers was to find victims still buried under mud and boulders throughout the town.
After the floods, residents frantically dug through the thick mud by hand to try to find survivors and loved ones. They were joined by search and rescue dogs along with specialized search teams. Interior Minister Remigio Ceballos said the landslides had been caused by Hurricane Julia, which passed just north of Venezuela, reports BBC News . “There was a record rainfall, as much rain in one day as is usually seen in a month,” he said. Many residents have lost their loved ones in this tragedy. According to News360, Ceballos told the TeleSur news channel, “So far, officially, we have 50 people who unfortunately lost their lives and have been handed over to their families.”
Reuters reports that Armando Escalona, a 43-year-old taxi driver, was attending an evangelical church service with his family when the flood waters caught them by surprise. He said that he remembers hugging his family for a short while until an unknown object hit his head and left him unconscious. When he woke, he couldn’t find his family. “I lost my wife and my 5-year-old son. I can’t even talk. We were at the service and everything happened so fast,” Escalona said.
Although preventing an event like this is impossible, many blame climate change for this incident and are expressing displeasure with Venezuela’s environmental practices as a whole. The Humanitarian Practice Network specifically calls out Venezuela’s environmental practices. They stated, “Mounting evidence suggests that Venezuela is experiencing accelerating, chronic climate shocks and stresses.” There are different factors that play into the current situation with climate change in Venezuela, however, many question the competence of the Venezuelan government and if they are focused on the environmental impacts of their practices.
The Harvard International Review has specifically criticized Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro for his practices in the oil market. They write, “Venezuela’s state-run PDVSA oil company has been pumping out oil without concerns about contamination. As a result, PDVSA rarely cleans up oil spills regularly.” These oil spills lead to severe consequences for Venezuelans, such as water pollution and less successful harvests, which have affected every corner of Venezuela. Ultimately, the lack of environmental oversight from the Venezuelan government will continue to have a negative effect on the country, and broad reforms are required for the country to adequately address the issue of climate change.
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