At least 154 dead after landslide in Colombia
More than 100 people are injured after heavy rains caused several rivers to overflow
Tthe Colombian National Army, soldiers and residents work together in rescue efforts in Mocoa, Colombia on Saturday. Photograph: Colombian Army Photo via AP
A landslide in Colombia’s southwestern border province of Putumayo sent mud and debris crashing onto houses overnight, killing 154 people and injuring at least 120, officials said on Saturday.
Heavy rains caused several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks onto buildings and roads in the provincial capital of Mocoa and immobilising cars in several feet of mud.
“It has just been reported to me that we have 112 people dead,” president Juan Manuel Santos said after arriving in Mocoa and declaring a state of emergency. “We will keep looking,” he added, referring to ongoing rescue efforts. The number has since risen.
Local police said earlier on Saturday that 93 bodies had been recovered. The disaster response unit said 120 people were injured, though local media reported at least 200.
“We have sent a team of 150 people to make our response effective and machinery began work immediately,” Carlos Ivan Marquez, head of the disaster unit, said in a statement. “We will be with the governor and the mayor giving all necessary attention.”
Photos posted on Twitter by the air force showed neighborhood streets filled with mud and damaged houses while videos on social media showed residents searching for survivors in the debris and struggling to move through waist-high water overnight.
“It’s a big area,” Mocoa Mayor Jose Antonio Castro told Caracol on Saturday. “A big portion of the many houses were just taken by the avalanche, above all people were warned with enough time and they were able to get out, but houses in 17 neighborhoods have basically been erased.”
Two bridges also were destroyed, Mr Castro said.
A combination of heavy rains, a mountainous landscape and informal construction of homes makes landslides in the Andean country relatively common. Reuters