By Felipe Iturrieta
SANTIAGO (Reuters) – A mudslide on Saturday tore through a small village in southern Chile near a popular national park, leaving five people dead and at least 15 missing after a night of torrential downpours, authorities said.
A video taken from a helicopter by Chilean police showed a vast swath of the remote town of Villa Santa Lucia, near Chaiten in coastal Patagonia, buried beneath the mud as the landslide plowed its way down a flooded river valley.
Four Chileans and a male tourist whose name and nationality have not been disclosed were died in the mudslide, authorities said.
Rescue workers were continuing to search through the debris for at least 15 people.
The mudslide also destroyed a school and several homes and roadways as well as a voting center ahead of Chile´s presidential election on Sunday.
President Michelle Bachelet declared the area a disaster zone.
“I have ordered rescue workers to put all the necessary resources toward protecting the people of Villa Santa Lucia,” she said on social media.
More than 4.5 inches (11.4 cm) of rain fell in 24 hours, the country’s Interior Ministry said, but weather conditions were expected to improve later in the day.
Villa Santa Lucia borders Chile’s Corcovado National Park, a popular tourist region of volcanoes, fjords and vast forests.
The nearby Chaiten volcano erupted in 2008, forcing the evacuation of thousands of residents.
(Reporting by Felipe Iturrieta; writing by Dave Sherwood, editing by G Crosse)