Disasters & Accidents

At least 14 dead in Colombia mudslide

Bogota/Quetame, Jul 18 (EFE).- At least 14 people were killed early Tuesday in a mudslide that struck the central Colombian municipality of Quetame, while six others were injured and several more individuals are reported missing, officials said.

In response, authorities have declared a local emergency to immediately access the resources needed to attend to the victims, their families and other residents of that municipality located in the central department of Cundinamarca, Gov. Nicolas Garcia said.

Torrential rains caused two streams to burst their banks early Tuesday and sweep away part of the hamlet of Naranjal, located in the town of Quetame’s rural outskirts.

The director of Colombia’s National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD), Olmedo Lopez, told Efe that three children were among the dead.

The affected families will be temporarily housed in a shelter before being moved to more permanent accommodations, he added.

“It was a small community,” said the official, who cited figures from the Quetame municipal government indicating that 20 homes were buried under tons of mud.

Lopez called for local residents to be relocated to a safer place and said the affected territory should never be inhabited again.

The mudslide also swept away a bridge, leading to the closure of the road that runs from Bogota to Villavicencio, capital of Meta department and one of Colombia’s most important food hubs.

“Some works of infrastructure were lost, such as the bridge to Villavicencio and a bridge in the hamlet, but the important thing today is to save lives,” Lopez said.

“What we’re doing is searching for (the missing) and accompanying families.”

The Colombian army also said it has dispatched 81 soldiers, including nine operators of specialized search-and-rescue equipment, to the area to help locate the victims and attend to the emergency. EFE


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