ALAUSI, Ecuador - The official death toll from a landslide in Ecuador rose to at least eight Tuesday evening as families and rescue groups worked to find dozens of people missing after landslide smothered buildings and a stadium in the small city of Alausi.
Using spades, relatives dug through the dirt in places they believe their loved ones were when the landslide hit in the Andean province of Chimborazo on Sunday night after heavy rains.
About 67 people were missing as of Tuesday, according to Ecuador's disaster agency, and around 32 survivors had been rescued.
'We've not received help, we've been searching since Monday, we cannot leave our relatives here in the earth,' said a tearful Sandra Caranqui, 32, on Tuesday.
She and other family members were searching for her father and four siblings following the landslide, which authorities said affected about 163 buildings and 500 people.
'We no longer have hope that they're alive,' Caranqui said. 'They've been in there for two days.'
Residents walk in an area swept by a landslide in Alausi, Ecuador, March 28, 2023, the day after the avalanche buried dozens of homes.
Professional rescuers also worked through the night using digging equipment. Jorge Montanero, chief of the city of Guayaquil's fire department rescue group, told journalists the search would go on.
'While we have even a pinch of hope and faith, we will continue even though exhaustion may be greater,' he said.
President Guillermo Lasso visited the area on Monday night and offered to extend the rescue operation to find the missing.
With fears that more landslides could be triggered, the government has ordered the evacuation of about 600 homes. Three shelters have been set up to care for those affected.
Ecuador's disaster agency had warned of potential landslide danger for a 247-hectare area in Alausi in February, which included part of the zone where Sunday's landslide hit.
Heavy rains destroyed roads, bridges, and other infrastructure. Lasso last week declared an emergency in 14 provinces because of the weather and an earthquake on March 18.