Mudslides triggered by heavy rains in southern Colombia have left at around 150 people dead, with hundreds more injured and missing, several outlets are reporting.
According to the Guardian, the rains caused the rivers in the country’s Putumayo province to overflow, sending mud and debris into houses and roads.
“At this time we have removed 93 bodies. We have adults, women and infants,” police commander Col Omar Bonilla told a local radio station on Saturday afternoon. The confirmed death toll has risen steadily since then, with local media putting the figure as high as 200. Al Jazeera, the Guardian and BBC have placed the number dead at 154. An estimated 220 people are still missing, and another 400 were injured, according to the Red Cross.
Putumayo’s Governor Sorrel Aroca called the mudslide “an unprecedented tragedy” for the area. “Hundreds of families we have not yet found and whole neighborhoods have disappeared,” he told W Radio.
A crisis group of more than 100 local officials, military personnel, police and rescuers are working to clear debris and locate the missing, said Carlos Ivan Marquez, director of the National Disaster Risk Management Unit. Mocoa, Putumayo’s capital and home to 40,000, remains without power or running water.
President Juan Manuel Santos told reporters that more than five inches of rain fell on the area Friday night, setting off the avalanche of mud. “We don’t know how many (deaths) they’ll be,” he said. “We continue to search.”
“There are lots of people in the streets, lots of people displaced and many houses have collapsed,” one Mocoa resident told PRI. “People do not know what to do... there were no preparations” made for such a disaster, he said.
“We are just scarcely realizing what has happened to us.”