Authorities in Michoacán have confirmed the deaths of seven people including at least two children who were swept away Sunday in floodwaters. At least five others are missing.
Heavy rains caused the Cutio River to overflow its banks in the municipality of Peribán, located 170 kilometers west of the state capital Morelia, releasing a fast-moving river of mud and water that completely destroyed about 40 homes.
Several vehicles were also caught up in the floodwaters.
“The water destroyed everything in its path,” said Michoacán Civil Protection chief Eloy Girón.
The National Water Commission (Conagua) said in a statement yesterday that as much as 58 liters of rain per square meter fell in Peribán in just two hours Sunday. It also said the floodwaters displaced large rocks, mud, branches, trees, sand and gravel.
Conagua explained that the water run-off traveled at a such a fast pace due to the fact that the Cutio River descends 1,040 meters in just 13 kilometers, adding that there were also obstructions in its channel that impeded its natural flow.
The commission clarified that there are no Conagua-managed dams that overflowed in the area as some media outlets had reported.
The federal Secretariat of the Interior yesterday declared a state of emergency in the municipality and members of Michoacán Governor Silvano Aureoles Conejo’s cabinet have traveled to Peribán to oversee recovery efforts.
Searches to locate the missing began early yesterday morning with soldiers contributing to residents’ efforts to look through the enormous quantities of debris left in the streets.
One person who was lucky to survive the flash flood is 36-year-old Miguel Sevilla Carranza.
“I was driving in the streets of Peribán and I noticed that barely 20 meters away a tree and then two utility poles fell down. My reflexes were slower than the current of water that dragged me away, vehicle and all,” he said.
After coming to a halt, Sevilla managed to escape from his car after which he knocked on the door of the first house he came to.
“The people didn’t know what was happening, one of them was asleep and the other was watching television . . . Everything happened in a matter of seconds. When I could, I spoke to my family and found out they were okay,” Sevilla said.
“You could see furniture on the roads, mothers shouted for their children who were playing in the street at the time and [suddenly] weren’t there. Kids cried because the current carried away their grandfather and father. Other people shouted because they had lost everything,” he added.
The heavy rains in Michoacán followed severe flooding in Sinaloa last week, where five people died and up to 300,000 homes were affected.
A man and a woman also drowned in a swollen stream in Chihuahua and there was one further flood-related death in Sonora.