Ecuadorean mudslide entombs 36 motorists in roadside shack

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The Independent US

At least 36 motorists were buried when a sodden hillside collapsed on the roadside hut where they had taken shelter from a storm.

They had gone to the hut after an earlier landslide left 15 cars, lorries and buses cut off on a road30 miles east of Quito, Ecuador, which has been hit by four days of torrential rain. Ten people survived the force of rocks and mud that slammed into their makeshift shelter at dawn on Tuesday, Red Cross officials said. Four are still missing.

Attempts to dig out the bodies were called off for fear of triggering new landslides.

After escaping the hut Esther Cantos began trekking along the road with her eight-month-old son, Ivan. as temperatures dropped to 8C (46F).

She was forced to wrap Ivan tightly in nylon after he "began to turn a little purple", she told reporters.

By the time she had hiked to a Red Cross rescue shelter, she was smeared with mud up to her neck, but Ivan was safe.

Dozens of people are being treated by volunteers as the rains have swollen rivers across Ecuador and more than 2,500 people have been forced to evacuate their homes, the authorities said. An estimated 41 deaths are feared in the eastern Andes region and hundreds of vehicles are buried with bodies of people and livestock. Near the village of Papallacta, about a mile beyond the hut, there have been 14 slippages.

At La Guanga a 500ft section of a gas pipeline ruptured in a landslide and burst into flames. The country's main oil pipeline near by was also severely damaged, haemorrhaging 10,000 barrels of crude.