Less than three weeks after flash flooding killed hundreds in Mocoa, heavy rains induced a landslide that left at least 16 dead in the central Colombian city of Manizales.
At least seven others also remained missing late on Wednesday following a landslide that affected more than 500 families and 80 homes across 16 primarily lower-class neighborhoods, according to Colombia’s National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD). Rescue workers were continuing the search late into the evening in hope of finding more survivors, said officials.
The head of UNGRD, Carlos Iván Márquez Pérez, was among those who traveled to the capital of the Caldas department along with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos today to show their support for the victims and help coordinate the catastrophe response. Emergency aid was quickly dispersed to the affected families, and rent subsidies were offered to anyone who lost their homes, according to UNGRD.
Mattresses and cleaning kits were also distributed to those in need, and the national government said it has transferred funds to the mayor’s office of Manizales so that priority assistance could be given to victims immediately. The Colombian Red Cross, with more than 60 personnel on the scene, was also among the various agencies that helped to ensure the aid reached the people seeking help.
“I want to tell the people of Manizales that we are here with them,” said Santos. “We will always be here … Our hearts are with the families of the victims.”
The mayor of Manizales, per a BBC report, said that a month’s worth of rain fell overnight, causing the earth to collapse and destroy dozens of homes in quick succession in the Andean city whose metro area is home to more than half a million people.
Heavy rains have continued to bear down on many areas throughout the country for weeks, leading to red alerts being issued by public officials to warn those who may be in harm’s way. The risk of mudslides and flooding remains high in various locations given the high volume of water traveling throughout the country’s rivers.
After multiple rivers breached their banks in the Amazonian department of Putumayo on April 1, the resulting “avalanche” of water killed more than 300 people in Mocoa. It was the deadliest natural disaster to hit Colombia in decades.
Photo credit: Presidencia de la República