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6 Die in Ecuador Landslide

March 5, 1998

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) _ El Nino-driven rains set off a landslide Wednesday that sent tons of mud and rock racing down a hill, burying five adobe houses with 17 people inside.

Police found six bodies and were digging through mud and rock looking for 11 missing people in the village of Rio Canas in Manabi province, 150 miles southwest of Quito.

``There are more people buried, but rescuing them is difficult because we can’t get heavy machinery″ to the remote area, said Col. Eliseo Moscoso, police chief in nearby Portoviejo.

Police say persistent rains softened the side of a hill until a huge chunk broke off and buried the houses. Ten other houses were partially destroyed.

The six confirmed dead bring El Nino’s toll in Ecuador to 124 dead and about 20,000 driven from their homes since November, when the torrential rains began, authorities say.

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