Quito’s mayor Santiago Guarderas told reporters on Tuesday that 47 people were injured, including two that were left in critical condition as a result of the disaster. Seven have been discharged from hospital, he said.
Authorities have warned the death toll could rise as workers continue to remove debris, the mayor added.
“We saw this immense black river that was dragging along everything, we had to climb the walls to escape,” resident Alba Cotacachi, who evacuated her two young daughters from their home, told Reuters.
“We are looking for the disappeared,” Cotacachi said.
The storm that triggered the landslide dropped the equivalent of 75 liters per square meter (equal to 75 mm or nearly 3 inches of rain) marking the largest amount of rainfall the capital has seen in almost two decades, according to the mayor.
Guarderas said a similar volume of rainfall had last been recorded in the capital in 2003.
In a typical year, Quito averages about 82 mm (3.2 inches) in January and 111 mm (4.3 inches) in February. By those averages, three-quarters of the city’s monthly total fell in this single downpour.
Videos posted to social media showed residents screaming for help as a muddy river flowed through the streets of Quito, carrying trees, vehicles, dumpsters and electricity poles, Reuters reported.
“There was an oversaturation of the soil on the slopes, which generated a slide from the slopes to the channel and caused this landslide,” Guarderas said.