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Landslide Kills 22 in Peru's Southern Andes

March 18, 2000|Times Wire Services

AYACUCHO, Peru — A massive avalanche of mud and stones caused by heavy rains swept through an isolated hamlet in Peru's southern Andes, killing at least 22 villagers, including eight children, authorities said Friday.

The incident occurred late Thursday when the slopes of a low mountain ridge about a mile wide gave way, releasing an avalanche that traveled more than a mile at high speed before striking the small community of Uralla, 190 miles south of the capital, Lima.

Civil defense teams rushed to the village Friday with medicine, food and blankets for the survivors, said Ernesto Molina Chavez, a regional government administrator in the highland city of Huancavelica, 40 miles northwest of the community.

Chavez said 22 people were killed, about half the village's population. There is no chance that any other survivors will be found under the avalanche, regional government authorities said.

"It has been raining for the whole month. The rains are heavy, and this provoked the mudslide," said Molina.

The region's peasant farmers typically cultivate small plots of potatoes and corn and raise livestock, including hogs, llamas and alpacas.

Landslides are common in Peru's high Andes during the rainy season, which runs from October through March.

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