At least 22 people have died and dozens more are still missing after several days of heavy rain in Western Colombia caused several mudslides. The Colombian Government updated their official death toll today after another six bodies from the mudslides were found, bringing the total loss of life up to 22. A further 17 people are known to have been seriously injured in the devastation caused by the mudslides. An additional 70 people are also missing according to the local media, although Government officials said they could not confirm that number.
Sniffer dogs are searching for dozens of people thought to be buried under heavy mud in the city of Manizales after their homes were washed away or buried. Manizales, located in Colombia’s coffee growing centre, has been the worst hit by the enormous mudslides and suffered the largest loss of life. Firefighters reported that the rescue efforts were temporarily halted at one point by extremely heavy rain that made it too difficult and dangerous to continue searching for the missing. On Saturday, after several mudslides in the city, 150 rescue workers managed to pull five family members out of the rubble alive.
In the Cervantes district of the city, a hillside collapse killed at least 20 people. The Country’s transport minister German Cardona Gutierres said that it caused 16 homes to be buried and that at least a further 30 people from the collapse were missing. Mudslides in the neighbouring province of Quindio also caused four deaths.
Heavy rain is expected to continue in the area throughout November and December, with two or three times the average rainfall for the area a possibility. Many fear that there will be more mudslides and deaths in the region in the coming months. Around 250,000 people have already been evacuated from their homes during this year’s rainy season.