Listen to the news

Rescuers are searching for nearly 50 people reported missing after a landslide triggered by months of heavy rain killed at least seven people in southern Ecuador.

The mudslide occurred overnight from Sunday to Monday, burying dozens of houses and injuring 23 people in the village of Alausi in Chimborazo province, about 300 km south of Quito, officials said.

On Monday, rescue workers and civilians were seen trying to clear the debris by hand to reach survivors among twisted metal sheets and split tree trunks.

On the muddy streets of Alausi, a village of about 45,000 people surrounded by green hills, shocked residents stood around waiting for news, many with tears in their eyes.

The avalanche also affected several public buildings, damaged roads and closed three schools.

President Guillermo Lasso said on Twitter that firefighters from neighboring areas had gone to the village to help people affected by the tragedy.

He urged all citizens to evacuate the affected areas.

The government has mobilized the national police, the armed forces, the Ministry of Health and the Red Cross to help with rescue efforts.

At least 16 people have died in a landslide in central Ecuador

"We have activated temporary accommodation and mobilized sleeping kits for those who have lost their homes," the government said in a statement on Twitter.

Since the beginning of the year, heavy rains in Ecuador have killed 22 people, destroyed 72 houses and damaged more than 6,900, according to the risk management secretariat SNGR.

The rainfall caused nearly 1,000 hazardous events, such as landslides and floods.

The area affected by Sunday's disaster has been in the yellow danger zone since February after other landslides.

Sunday's landslide came just over a week after 15 people died in a powerful earthquake in Ecuador's southwestern border region with Peru.