Colombia, April 3: Around 254 laid to death and hundreds among them injured in the mudslides occurred in the south-west Colombia on Saturday morning. “Dozens of children are among those killed in devastating mudslides in south-west Colombia”, said the Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos.Mocoa situated in the south-west of Colombia got flooded due to heavy rains leads to mud and rocks burying whole neighbourhoods and forcing residents to flee their homes. Around 1,000 soldiers and police are involved in the relief effort in Putumayo province. President Santos who flew to the flooded area said: "Until we have the last person identified we are not going to stop”. He added that around 254 were found dead from whom at least 170 were identified which included 44 children.
The army had previously reported 200 people missing, but the President tweeted on Sunday afternoon that there were officially no disappeared persons. One of the residents said "We have lost a baby, who has gone missing. A little baby, we can't find him anywhere". Another woman while seeking her two daughters and one young granddaughter said tearing "Whether they are dead or alive, I just want to see them”.
As the rescue operations are still going on it is hard to confirm the exact death toll. The Colombian Red Cross said it was working to help family members contact each other, and the Air Force has brought supplies. President Santos said that they will make an investment to make Mocoa better than it was before. His critics said more should have been done to protect the area from such disasters.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, when many people were asleep in bed, the landslide struck. “A third of the region's expected monthly rain fell during one night”, said Colombia's director of the National Disaster Risk Management Unit. Although rainfall is abundant in the area, this downpour was unusually heavy and caused rivers to burst their banks. The overflow then picked up mud and debris, creating a cascade.
Blaming the climate change, a senior UN official in Colombia, Martin Santiago said: “it had caused tremendous results in terms of intensity, frequency and magnitude of these natural effects in the region”. Others said deforestation has also played a role. "When the basins are deforested, they break down. It is as if we remove the protection for avoiding landslides," said Adriana Soto, a Colombian conservationist and former Environment Minister.
In November, nine people died in the town of El Tambo, about 140km (90 miles) from Mocoa, during a landslide that followed a heavy rain. Less than a month before that, another landslide killed several people near Medellin, almost 500km (300 miles) to the north and in neighbouring Peru, more than 90 people have died since the start of the year because of unusually heavy rainfall, which also caused landslides and flash floods.