( dpa ) - A mud slide that followed weeks of heavy rain in Ecuador unleashed an oil spill in the Amazon region, officials said Saturday.
The heavy mud broke the Sote pipeline, which transports oil from the Amazon to the Pacific coast, releasing 4,000 barrels of oil into a swamp near the active volcano El Reventador, the president of the state oil company Petroecuador, Fernando Zurita, said Saturday.
Workers tried to prevent the outflow of the oil, but some of it reached the Aguarico River, which supplies food and water to a large number of people, media reports said.
Steady rains have unleashed floods and mudslides that have claimed 23 lives in Ecuador and caused at least 1 billion dollars in damages to agriculture, the oil industry and infrastructure.
Bolivia, Peru, Colombia and Argentina have also suffered heavy rain and widespread flooding in recent weeks. Peru, where 15 people have been killed so far, declared a state of emergency in its northern provinces, on the border to Ecuador.
Chile however is suffering its worst drought in 100 years.
In the rainiest winter in at least 20 years, the government in Quito declared the national state of emergency last week.