Slide Kills 36 Motorists in Ecuador

From Associated Press

An avalanche of rock and mud slammed down on a group of stranded motorists in the Andes east of the capital on Tuesday, killing at least 36 people, Ecuadorean authorities said.

Torrential rains set off the landslide that swept the victims as they hovered around a campfire, trying to get warm after their vehicles were blocked by an earlier avalanche, the Civil Defense office said.

The tragedy occurred early Tuesday about 30 miles east of Quito, according to a statement by the office.

The deaths brought to 41 the number of people killed during several days of heavy rains in the Ecuadorean Andes.

Meanwhile, nearly 2,500 others, mostly in Ecuador's eastern and southern Amazon region, were forced from homes as rivers overflowed their banks, officials said.

A landslide also ruptured Ecuador's main oil pipeline and a gas pipeline, sending flames shooting into the air.

Rodolfo Barniol, president of Petroecuador, said the rupture is expected cut off transport of crude oil for four to five days.

The landslides near the village of Papallacta east of Quito damaged a 200-foot stretch of the oil pipeline, he said, and a 500-foot section of the nearby gas pipeline.

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