Colombian rescues have intensified the relief efforts of flood survivors and the landslide of water and stones that in Mocoa has left more than 200 dead – 234 according to the Red Cross, 207 confirmed by the President of the Government – including 43 children and 202 wounded.
The landslide was caused by a sudden surge of three rivers – the Mocoa rivers and its tributaries Sangoyaco and Mulatos – after a heavy downpour that fell on Friday night and devastated several neighborhoods of Mocoa, capital of the jungle department of Putumayo, in The south of Colombia, of about 45,000 inhabitants.
The tragedy surpasses the most recent natural disaster of Colombia, the one of another avalanche that destroyed 18 of May of 2015 the locality of Salgar, in the department of Antioquia, leaving more than a hundred dead.
The inhabitants of Mocoa, accustomed to coexist with a nature of jungle and mighty rivers, were surprised last night by the unusual downpour that took of its channel the three that pass near the city and that, turned into a flood of water and stones, They took everything they found in their path.
The flood went through 17 neighborhoods, of which the most affected were those of San Miguel, Progreso and Independencia that are closer to the course of the river Mocoa, according to Efe told by telephone the commander of Army Brigade 27, General Adolfo Hernández .
The tragedy exhausted the capacity of the medical services of Mocoa, because although the hospitals were not affected, they were overwhelmed by the emergency.
The Ministry of Defense sent five Colombian Air Force (FAC) aircraft, four Army helicopters and three Police with medical personnel, as part of a contingent of 1,120 members of the Armed Forces to assist the victims, including There are also 150 members of the Battalion of Military Engineers.
According to President Santos explained, the public calamity declared in Mocoa will allow taking all necessary measures to help its inhabitants, such as sending tankers with drinking water and power plants as the city is without electricity.
The Presidency reported that on Sunday morning the provisional passage for vehicles along the Pitalito-Mocoa road was opened, considered key because it communicates the city with the center of the country and was closed by the collapse of a bridge.
The roads to Pasto and Florence are also operational, which are the other points of connection with the rest of the country.
President Juan Manuel Santos has twice visited the area, accompanied by other members of the Colombian Government and on the second occasion also his wife Maria Clemencia de Santos.
“Today I have come to solve the bottlenecks that are present so that the humanitarian part flows more easily and from now on start the stage of reconstruction,” he said.
The head of state reported that some 85 victims have already been recognized and said that the bodies of 43 children have been identified.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has already earmarked $ 200,000 to support humanitarian assistance and reconstruction of the city of Mocoa.
Colombia has received messages of solidarity and sympathy from the rest of the world, including that of Pope Francis.