Colombia landslide toll rises to 33 including children

Members of the rescue team search for people trapped at the area of a landslide in the road between Quibdo and Medellin, Choco department, Colombia on January 13, 2024. At least 33 people died in a landslide on Friday in an indigenous community in northwest Colombia, according to an updated government report released this Saturday.

The death toll from a landslide in north-west Colombia has risen to at least 33 people with children accounting for most of the victims, the vice president says.

Nineteen others were injured and rescue operations are ongoing.

Landslides had already closed the road connecting the cities of Medellín and Quibdo so people left their cars and sheltered in a house, an official said.

Another landslide then happened, burying them and some of the vehicles.

Colombian President Gustavo Preto has pledged “all help available” to the Choco region.

The landslide took place near the community of Carmen de Atrato, a local official said.

As many as 60 people were seeking shelter near a junction. The house was full of women and young children, one man who survived the ordeal told local media.

Choosing to speak anonymously to El Tiempo newspaper, he said sausage and fried plantain had been offered to those coming into the building from the heavy rain.

But then, in a matter of seconds, the landslide swept over the house and nearby cars.

In a post on X, Vice President Francia Márquez Mina said relief agencies, local authorities, police and the army had all been deployed to support search and rescue efforts in the Choco province.

The tragedy has rocked the South American country, with blanket media coverage and many expressing shock and condolences on social media.

The area in Choco province, bordering the Pacific Ocean, is heavily forested and has been hit by significant rainfall on Friday and Saturday.

The local mayor said on Saturday that some people were still trapped by the debris.

Images on social media and television channels showed cars destroyed and partially buried by mud and fallen rocks.

While Colombia is currently going through a period of drought, the country’s Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies has previously warned over the danger posed by heavy rains in areas bordering the Pacific and the Amazon rainforest.

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