By Fernando Gimeno |
Quito, (EFE) many inhabitants of this upper part of the capital of Ecuador, located on the slopes of the Pichincha volcano.
When the first anniversary of the tragedy, which occurred on January 31, 2021, is about to come to an end, Steven Pazmiño silently contemplates the lot where the volleyball court was, where he was playing that day and which was completely razed.
He still wonders how he ever survived to tell the story, unlike many of his friends.
«The current took me and I thought ‘this is how far I’ve come. I was thinking about how ugly it was to die like this, and suddenly I felt a blow and I was out of the current. I woke up scared and beaten… and I couldn’t believe it. I was complete. Not a fracture. Only blows,” Pazmiño told EFE.
“They tell me it was a miracle of nature,” adds this 27-year-old who feels, as they say in these situations, that he was born again that day and that this day, the 31st, marks the first year of his second life.
Most of the deceased were with Pazmiño on that court which, at the time of the tragedy, sheltered more than 50 people from the heavy rain while they played volleyball, as on so many other times when it rained heavily in Quito, without imagining that that afternoon part of the mountain would collapse.
“They were like a second family,” he recalls while looking at a banner hanging on a fence with photos of all the deceased. Only that poster remembers what happened there. There is no trace of the covered court.
«Every day I have tried to forget, but one does not stop remembering, especially now that it is the rainy season, and there is thunder and the roof of the house rattles, (…) and the possibility of another return (a flood) is not ruled out )”, fears Pazmino.
A year of torment and suffering
For Juan Ignacio Tacuri, brother-in-law of one of those who died in the flood, this last year has been one of “torment and suffering” seeing the consequences that the loss of Wilmer Moreira left on his sister and children, whom he has tried to ” give morale and help to get ahead ».
“With a natural death, the pain is more bearable… but not with an accident overnight,” Tacuri laments to EFE, who blames the former mayors for not having carried out sufficient prevention and mitigation works to avoid the disaster.
Moreira’s brother-in-law also remembers the lack of empathy of the people with his sister and was even encouraged to compose a poem that he hung on the pole of the old volleyball court.
«You left an indelible mark, honest and loving father. You always showed that you were an excellent husband. Impeccable exemplary and simple, we friends say goodbye to you, see you soon, great ‘Casquillo’. I am left with the regret of never being able to see you, but it is consolation for everyone, that with God you will rest in peace », he reads through tears.
They still don’t sleep peacefully
A little above the volleyball court is the house of Patricio Sanguña, who did not lose anyone, but he did lose his telecommunications company and a vehicle that was carried away by the current. His savings were used to rebuild the house.
“The house began to shake and from the window we already saw how my truck was taken away,” Sanguña tells EFE while showing photos of the unrecoverable state in which the vehicle was left.
“We went up to the third floor to try to save ourselves, because it was a monstrosity with trees and stones, and it entered to the bottom of my house, 1.5 meters high. Pure mud, garbage, tires and rubble », he comments on the material that took two weeks to extract.
A year later, for Sanguña, neither the Government nor the Municipality of Quito complied with the promised aid in the form of loans and mitigation works. Only a metal mesh fence is the only containment built so far in the neighborhood if something similar is repeated.
“There is not a large dam here that can contain it and we can sleep peacefully, because it will be a year and here we are still waiting to see what can happen,” he says.
As a tribute to the victims, a religious ceremony has been announced in the neighborhood for Saturday in the open space where the volleyball court was.