Bogota, July 19 (EFE).- The death toll from a mudslide in the town of Quetame, in the central Colombian department of Cundinamarca, has risen to 20, authorities said Wednesday.
“Today, July 19, we unfortunately confirmed 20 fatalities in the municipality of Quetame,” said Cundinamarca Governor Nicolás García.
Rescue work continued throughout Wednesday to try to recover the people who were trapped after heavy rains flooded two streams in the early hours of Tuesday morning that washed away part of the hamlet of Naranjal in the rural area of Quetame.
According to the Quetame Mayor’s Office, which belongs to the department of Cundinamarca, 20 houses are thought to be under the mud, and a bridge was also swept away, causing the closure of the road connecting Bogotá with Villavicencio, capital of the department of Meta and one of the country’s main agricultural areas.
For this reason, the Colombian government enabled an air bridge between Bogota and Villavicencio with two planes and five additional flights operated by the state-owned Satena with tickets from 250,000-382,000 Colombian peso (about $63-$96).
Colombian President Gustavo Petro said the area continues to display “anomalous behavior due to the instability of the terrain,” and therefore authorities will help families move “immediately,” since “the danger has not ceased and it is essential that the number of victims does not increase.”
“This is one of the events that are already typical of a mountain range that is still very young and unstable, and that in this specific area has caused hundreds of deaths,” added the president, who indicated that in addition to the installation of an air bridge, a group of experts has been sent to the area to plan the installation of metal bridges.
The governor said that “during the course of the day we also carried out reconnaissance with drones to monitor tributaries in Puente Quetame and activate alarms when necessary.”
He also asked the government for help to relocate or build a retaining wall to protect those living in the 40 houses with which the bridge connects. EFE