A tragic series of events involving heavy rain, swollen rivers, and a devastating mud slide destroyed the Colombian city of Mocoa, population 345,000, early Saturday morning.
It is being reported that 254 people are dead and hundreds more injured after sediment and rocks came crashing into buildings and roads in the capital city of the southwestern Putumayo province, burying streets in several feet of mud.
Residents described a “torrential rainstorm” which intensified in the middle of the night.
Mario Usale, 42, was searching for his father-in-law. “My mother-in-law was also missing,” he said, “but we found her alive two kilometers away. She has head injuries, but she was conscious.”
After he confirmed the number dead, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos pledged to help the victims rebuild their city. “We will do everything possible to help them,” he said. “It breaks my heart.”
The Colombian army reported that “1,100 soldiers and police officers were called in to help dig people out in 17 affected neighborhoods.” In addition to those killed, 400 people were injured and 200 were missing.
Mud- and land- slides happen frequently in Colombia, and people were warned, but several neighborhoods and two bridges were wiped out by the deluge.
Mocoa Mayor Jose Antonio Castro lost his house. “A big portion of the many houses were just taken by the avalanche,” he said.
Heartbreaking photos of mud-filled buildings and residents searching for survivors in the debris in the middle of the night have been posted on social media sites.
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