ASUNCION (Reuters) – At 49 years old, Juana Villalba will leave Paraguay for the first time. But it is a trip she never wanted to make.
Juana, who resides in a small rural town about 200 kilometers (125 miles) east of capital city Asuncion, will leave for the United States on Saturday in search of news of her only daughter, Leidy Luna, who disappeared in the rubble of the building that collapsed last week in Miami.
Juana will travel with Lourdes Luna, Leidy’s cousin. Both obtained an emergency visa to enter the United States on Friday, a day after getting their first ever passports.
“These days have been terrible for us, it is all very desperate. Her mother has not even had time to cry,” Lourdes told Reuters as she returned from Asuncion to her home in Eugenio A. Garay to prepare for the trip.
Leidy, a nurse, went to Miami with the sister-in-law of Paraguay’s president and her husband to help care for their three children. The entire family is missing after the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside.
“She was nervous about the trip but excited. Later, while there, she let us know that she was very well,” said Lourdes.
U.S. authorities have confirmed that 20 people have died in the collapse https://www.reuters.com/world/us/search-resumes-145-missing-rubble-florida-condo-2021-07-02, with 128 remaining missing and feared buried under tons of concrete and twisted metal. The search for victims in the rubble continued Friday amid fears of further landslides.
(Reporting by Daniela Desantis, writing by Hugh Bronstein, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)