Home World Americas News Colombia Landslide Death Toll Rises to 254

Colombia Landslide Death Toll Rises to 254


The total death toll of the devastating mudslides in south-west Colombia is now 254, with hundreds also injured.

According to President Juan Manuel Santos, dozens of children are among those killed.

Heavy rain flooded the town of Mocoa in Colombia’s south-west, with mud and rocks burying whole neighborhoods and forcing residents to flee their homes.

More than 1,000 soldiers and police are involved in the relief effort in Putumayo province.

President Juan Manuel Santos, who flew to the area on April 1 after the landslide struck, said: “Until we have the last person identified we are not going to stop.”

The relief efforts continued throughout the weekend.

At least 170 of the dead identified, including 44 children, said the president.

Image source Reuters

The army had previously reported 200 people missing, but the president tweeted on April 2 that there were officially no disappeared persons.

Earlier in the day, video footage from Mocoa showed residents crying over a list of missing children, with their names and aged pinned to a board.

The exact death toll is hard to confirm with the rescue operation still under way – some local media estimate up to 300 people have been killed.

The Colombian Red Cross said it was working to help family members contact each other, and the Air Force has brought supplies.

President Juan Manuel Santos has vowed investment will be made to make Mocoa better than it was before.

His critics said more should have been done to protect the area from such disasters.

The landslide struck in the early hours of April 1, when many people were asleep in bed.

Colombia’s director of the National Disaster Risk Management Unit told the AFP that a third of the region’s expected monthly rain fell during one night.

Although rainfall is abundant in the area, this downpour was unusually heavy and caused rivers to burst their banks.

The overflow then picked up mud and debris, creating a cascade.

Video footage of the aftermath showed currents so strong that abandoned trucks were propelled through the flooded streets.

A senior UN official in Colombia, Martin Santiago, blamed climate change, saying it had caused “tremendous results in terms of intensity, frequency and magnitude of these natural effects” in the region.

Others said deforestation has also played a role.

With no running water in Mocoa, one resident told El Tiempo newspaper that they had been collecting rainwater. Power lines are also out across the area.

Photos posted to social media by the air force showed some patients being evacuated by air.

Landslides have struck the region several times in recent months.

In November 2016, nine people died in the town of El Tambo, about 90 miles from Mocoa, during a landslide that followed heavy rain.

Less than a month before that, another landslide killed several people near Medellin, almost 300 miles to the north.