APR 02, 2017 2:52 PM PDT

Hundreds suffer from flooding and mudslides in Colombia

Extreme rains that led to the flooding of a confluence of three rivers in the province of Putomayo has resulted in a natural disaster for the Colombian people of the province’s capital, Mocoa, a city of nearly 350,000 people. Nearly 30% of monthly rain fell in just one night.

Photo: BBC

The army said in a statement that 254 people were killed, 400 people had been injured and 200 were missing. More than 1,100 soldiers and police officers were called in to help dig people out in 17 affected neighborhoods.

"It was torrential rainstorm, it got really strong between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.," said local resident Mario Usale, 42, who was looking for his father-in-law in the debris. "My mother-in-law was also missing, but we found her alive two kilometers away. She has head injuries, but she was conscious."

After declaring a state of emergency in the region, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos flew to Mocoa to oversee rescue efforts on the city outskirts and speak with affected families. "We will do everything possible to help them," Santos said after confirming the death toll. "It breaks my heart."

Soldiers helped residents leave Mocoa on Saturday. Credit Colombian Army

The director of Colombia’s disaster agency, Carlos Iván Márquez, said that 400 rescuers were scouring the riversides for victims and survivors while helicopters searched from the air. “We have a huge challenge to find the missing,” he said.

Many of the residents of Mocoa were sleeping when the wave reached the town. Videos on social media showed vehicles being carried downstream by a rapidly moving current while houses were buried under mud. While the Red Cross has deployed employees to help in recovery processes, following the New York Times, a surgeon at a hospital in Mocoa said doctors were overwhelmed and blood supplies were running very low. President Santos is quoted as blaming the tragedy on climate change because such intense rains are not the norm.

Sources: The New York Times, The Guardian, Reuters

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
AUG 18, 2020
Health & Medicine
Using Wastewater Surveillance to Track COVID-19 Outbreaks
AUG 18, 2020
Using Wastewater Surveillance to Track COVID-19 Outbreaks
Even as countries are now gradually starting to reopen after lockdown, the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. Researche ...
SEP 04, 2020
Microbiology
Researchers Discover a Way to Use Microbes to Help Make Plastic
SEP 04, 2020
Researchers Discover a Way to Use Microbes to Help Make Plastic
Researchers have discovered that some bacteria can make ethylene in a way we never knew about; microbes that metabolize ...
SEP 07, 2020
Neuroscience
Researchers Identify 5 Kinds of Cat Owners
SEP 07, 2020
Researchers Identify 5 Kinds of Cat Owners
Conservationists have long been concerned about the number of animals caught by domestic cats. In the US alone, estimate ...
OCT 17, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Improving carbon capture technologies using membranes
OCT 17, 2020
Improving carbon capture technologies using membranes
Researchers from the International Institute for Carbo-Neutral Energy Research (I2CNER), Kyushu University and NanoMembr ...
OCT 26, 2020
Microbiology
A Network of Fungi Helps Trees Grow
OCT 26, 2020
A Network of Fungi Helps Trees Grow
Trees rely on a network of fungal friends for good health. Communities of trees can share nutrients and other essentail ...
NOV 24, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Cracking the Code of a Locust Swarm
NOV 24, 2020
Cracking the Code of a Locust Swarm
With a reputation for destruction that goes back to ancient Egypt, locust swarms are once again a major problem for some ...
Loading Comments...