A landslide in the village of Villa Santa Lucía (Los Lagos region) has left at least five people dead and 15 others missing on Saturday, December 16. The landslide struck the town on Saturday morning (local time). Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has declared a state of emergency in the area. The landslide reportedly destroyed half of the village, including a school and dozens of homes. A series of fires broke out in the village following the landslide, destroying additional houses; the fires have since been contained. The landslide also obstructed roads in the area, cutting off many inhabitants from the surrounding region. Accordingly, Chilean authorities have commenced air evacuations from the affected areas to the nearby town of Chaitén. Associated power outages have reportedly left thousands of people without electricity in the region.
Heavy rainfall reportedly prompted Saturday's landslide in Villa Santa Lucía: over 11.4 cm (4.5 in) of rainfall lashed surrounding areas in the 24 hours preceding the landslide. Though weather conditions are expected to improve in the coming hours, continued power outages, transportation disruptions, and additional casualties may soon be reported.
The rainy season in Los Lagos region generally extends from April to October; however, rain is common throughout the year. Average total rainfall in December is around 7.2 cm (2.8 in).
Individuals present in the affected areas of Los Lagos region are advised to monitor developments to the situation and to adhere to any orders issued by the local authorities (e.g. evacuation orders). Remember that driving or walking through running water can be dangerous - 15 cm (6 in) of running water is enough to knock over an adult - and that floodwater may contain wastewater or chemical products; all items having come into contact with the water should be disinfected and all foodstuffs discarded.