Floods kill seven at Venezuela religious gathering

At least seven people were killed in western Venezuela after heavy rains swept away a group of people at a religious gathering, the state’s governor said Saturday.


Around 40 members of the Methodist Church, a Protestant religious group, had gathered in Tachira state on Friday when heavy rains suddenly caused flooding, governor Freddy Bernal said on Twitter.


Some of the worshippers were bathing in the river when the rains came down, suddenly raising the water level and washing them away, Bernal said on Saturday.


“So far, seven bodies have been extracted — of which four are unidentified — and we are continuing the search for three bodies,” he added.


The flooding took place in a region of the Andes bordering Colombia that is popular with tourists.


The region’s mountainous terrain and low temperatures pose challenges for the search, which continued late into the night on Saturday.


This year Venezuela has recorded above-average rainfall, which has caused damage in several regions, officials said.


Government spokespersons have linked the heavy rainfall to the La Nina weather phenomenon, which is caused by a thermal anomaly in the equatorial surface waters of the Pacific Ocean.