Friday, December 1, 2023

Government warns another 120 homes in danger due to risk of second slide

A high probability of another landslide on the Cerro de Chiquihuite (Chiquihuite Hill) on the boundary of Tlalnepantla and the Mexico City borough of Gustavo A. Madero means that 126 homes must be evacuated, government officials said.

One person was killed when 200 tonnes of rock and earth swept through at least 10 homes in a landslide on Friday. A mother and her two children are still missing, according to a report by the newspaper La Jornada. There were originally thought to be 10 people missing, one of whom was rescued with severe injuries, the newspaper Milenio reported. México state Governor Alfredo del Mazo said it was likely that heavy rains and the 7.1-magnitude earthquake last Tuesday had caused the landslide.

Authorities have increased the call for evacuation from 80 homes to 126. Four temporary shelters have been opened to receive evacuees, but so far only around 50%, or 76 people, have responded to the request. The newspaper El Universal reported Sunday that almost 200 people in 92 homes were yet to leave.

More than a thousand sandbags have been laid to create a retaining wall to stabilize the dislodged boulders. Search operations involving rescue dogs to find the three missing people continue.

State official Ricardo de la Cruz Musalem explained at a press conference that topological transformations on the hill made it unsafe. “There are rocks that ended up underneath one another and under some houses. That’s why I reiterate the call for people to evacuate,” he said, and added that a high concentration of water on the hill increased the danger.

He added that evacuating was the best way to avoid tragedy. “It is very difficult to leave the heritage they have built for a generation or even several, but it is much worse to be searching for a loved one,” he said.

Tlalnepantla Mayor Raciel Pérez said illegal housing, facilitated by corruption, had increased the risk. “In this area there is urban growth based on corruption, a black market for land use. Overnight there were changes in land use, despite the dangers in the area,” he said.

At least one resident of Chiquihuite Hill noticed six waterfalls had formed on the hill during heavy rains prior to the landslide.

Leonel Carrasco, another resident, confirmed that local people had seen warning signs, and alerted authorities beforehand. “Since the rains began we felt a lack of stability in the earth. There have been other landslides, but this one was deadly. We asked the local government for geological studies to determine the stability of some land, but there was no response,” he said.

With reports from Jornada, Milenio and El Universal

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