Disasters & Accidents

Hurricane Iota wreaks havoc in Colombia, moves toward San Andrés

Bogota, Nov 15 (efe-epa).- The torrential rains caused by Hurricane Iota in the Caribbean have caused disasters in several Colombian regions where thousands of people have been affected and on Sunday authorities were on alert in the Archipelago of San Andrés, which is in the storm’s path.

While the scenes in the northern Colombian city of Cartagena de Indias are of flooded streets and of people staying in temporary shelters, on the Caribbean islands of San Andres and Providencia, already battered by Hurricane Eta, the authorities are preparing for the passage of Iota, which is advancing with maximum sustained winds of more than 140 kilometers per hour.

The rains have also caused landslides and floods in municipalities such as Dabeiba, in the northwestern department of Antioquia, where three people have died and more than 500 people were affected.

In Choco, a poverty-stricken and jungle province bordering Panama, flooding has occurred in more than 12 municipalities.

In addition to the hurricane, rains are expected across several Colombian departments over the next 30 days, due to the weather phenomenon known as La Niña.

“We are going to have rainfalls for at least the next 30 days. We hope that they are not so heavy. What the Ideam (Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies) tells us is that the phenomenon of La Niña is happening,” said President Ivan Duque on a visit to Dabeiba.

Cartagena de Indias, which is Colombia’s flagship tourist destination, is 70 percent flooded, according to mayor William Dau, who also declared a state of public calamity in order to attend to the emergency.

“Yesterday, 31,500 homes were affected, which were approximately 150,000 people. There were landslides, overflowings, floods and many people lost their homes,” Dau said Sunday in a video published by the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD).

Hundreds of families who lost their homes were transferred to temporary shelters, while the beaches were closed. Boat owners have been issued warnings against setting sail to the island area until further notice.

In the municipality of Dabeiba, landslides in rural areas left three dead and eight missing.

The number of missing persons was reduced to half with respect to the 16 reported Saturday after the authorities found eight people alive. Those eight are already in “five shelters that the municipality has set up for those affected,” said Anibal Gaviria, the governor of the northwestern department of Antioquia.

The disaster in Dabeiba has left 497 people affected, 20 injured, 67 homes destroyed, and three educational centers affected.

In Choco, there are more than 28,000 people affected by the rains, three injured and one dead, while five houses were destroyed, 27 more are affected and three bridges are damaged.

Rains caused flooding and bridge collapse in the municipality of Lloro.

Meanwhile, San Andres was just beginning to count the losses caused by Eta, which left two injured, 141 families affected, six homes destroyed and 64 more damaged, as well as 24 commercial establishments and a community center affected and is now on alert for Iota.

The director of Ideam, Yolanda Gonzalez, assured Sunday that Hurricane Iota remains at category 1 but “continues to gain strength in Colombia’s Caribbean Sea as it approaches the archipelago.”

The San Andres Risk Management coordinator, Walden Downs, told EFE that local authorities are taking measures to reduce the impact that the hurricane may cause. EFE-EPA


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