Venezuelan rescuers search for missing as flood death toll grows


LAS TEJERIAS, Venezuela, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Venezuelans in the town of Las Tejerias, in the country's Aragua state, on Monday waited amid a rising death toll as rescuers searched for the more than 50 missing persons who were swept away on Saturday by devastating floods following heavy rain.

Rains on Saturday night swept large tree trunks and debris from surrounding mountains into Las Tejerias, 40 miles (67 kilometers) southwest of Caracas, and damaging businesses and farmland.

At least 36 people have been killed by the floods while 56 remain missing, Remigio Ceballos, vice president of citizen security area, told reporters in Las Tejerias on Monday.

Early estimates reported at least 25 dead and 52 missing.

Standing in front of what was once her two-story house, before the floods destroyed it, Jennifer Galindez waited for news of her husband, one of the people reported missing after water surged through the town.

The flood also killed her young granddaughter, she said.

"My husband was by the window. I couldn't help him either and the water took him away," said Galindez, 46, adding that her husband Jose Segovia, 55, suffers from severe diabetes.

Galindez left to seek help amid the rain when she saw the water enter her home, before the flood took her too.

"The water swept me away," she said, adding that she eventually found refuge on a platform where there was no current.

Houses, shops and other premises in Las Tejerias were fully or partially filled with mud and other debris carried by the water. The area is currently without electricity or drinking water.

On Monday, bulldozers could be seen clearing roads in Las Tejerias as the sun shone after several days of rain.

Though Galindez managed to make her way back to what had been her house - half buried in mud - on Saturday, through a hole in the wall she saw her husband was not in his bed, while her granddaughter Estefania Romero, not yet 2, had drowned on the sofa.

"I haven't been able to sleep," Galindez said. "I can't close my eyes because that's what I see. I see my granddaughter, where I put her. I left her there and I couldn't get her out."

Reporting by Mircely Guanipa Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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