Local authorities say the overgrown mountain is unsuitable for building houses and prone to landslides.
Rescue workers in Peru have found the bodies of at least two people, including a one-month-old baby, as they continue to search for missing residents after a major landslide hit a community in the north of the country .
The landslide occurred in the town of Retamas in Peru’s La Libertad region on Tuesday, destroying several homes and other structures.
“We managed to recover the bodies of an adult, a man and a one-month-old girl,” Jose Rivas, spokesman for the police rescue team, said on Wednesday.
“He was most likely trying to protect the young girl and the landslide buried them both,” Rivas said, adding that the bodies were found in the rubble of a market.
Peru’s Defense Minister Jose Luis Gavidia said earlier that eight people had been rescued unharmed from the rubble, while eight others – including three children – remained missing.
“I managed to get out in time (but) my house was buried. The landslide left us with nothing,” said Ledy Leiva, who escaped with five members of her family.
The development comes amid intense political and environmental challenges in the Andean nation.
On Monday, Peru’s Congress voted to open impeachment proceedings against President Pedro Castillo over corruption allegations. And in January, a major oil spill on the country’s Pacific coast disrupted the lives and livelihoods of thousands of small-scale fishermen.
Peruvian President Pedro Castillo arrived in Retamas on Wednesday to inspect the damage.
“In Peru we don’t have a risk map, there are people who dare to put a roof over a river or drill a hole in a hill to make houses,” Castillo said, referring to the poor who have no choice but to build makeshift houses in precarious places.
The National Civil Defense Institute said the landslide was the result of heavy rains.
According to local authorities in the area – where the miners usually live – the mountain covered in vegetation is not suitable for building houses.
Earlier Wednesday Castillo tweeted that his government will help the families affected.
“We will support affected families and coordinate various actions with local authorities,” he said.
Footage circulating on social media on Tuesday showed homes covered in mud and rocks as neighbors watched horrified.