A government official said there was a high probability that miners were trapped in collapsed gold mines in the affected southern regions.
Mudslides in Peru killed at least 12 people and affected thousands of others, according to government figures on Tuesday, as heavy rains caused widespread destruction.
The toll is expected to rise as rescue operations are underway in the south where homes were turned to rubble and roads and infrastructure washed away.
The residents of five small gold-mining villages in the Arequipa area of southern Peru were affected by the devastation.
The slides from the highest mountains in the region started on Sunday and continued on Monday, decimating everything in their path.
Governor Rohel Sanchez of Arequipa stated on Monday that it was highly likely that miners were trapped in gold mines that had collapsed in the affected southern regions.
President promises quick response
According to government figures, 20 people are officially reported injured and two missing, while up to 12,000 people suffered some form of damage in the disaster.
Mauro Noa, a community leader in the Posco Miski village, said “The neighbors who couldn’t leave their houses were taken by the wave of mud.”
Noa has been attempting to contact the local officials to procure food and first aid for more than 1,000 of his neighbors who have been stranded on a mountainside since Sunday and are unable to escape.
“They’re hungry and thirsty,” Noa said. “Nobody thinks about them.”
President Dina Boluarte conducted an aerial survey of the disaster zone on Tuesday morning to assess the damage.
“We are working on a very rapid response to this critical situation,” the president later said.
Peru has been in the midst of a political crisis with ongoing street protests against President Boluarte since December 7, after the controversial ouster of former Peruvian President Pedro Castillo.
ss/wd (AP, AFP, Reuters)