Major mudslides hit Colombia, in unusually wet dry season

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
February 24, 2017World News

Mudslides in Colombia’s southern department of Huila overwhelmed residents Wednesday (February 22) with overflowing rivers, sending a torrent of mud and debris rushing through streets. Many residents ended up trapped.

Rivers Frio and Neiva broke their banks, forcing the evacuation of more than 2,000 people in Rivera and Campoalegre.

Some 120 homes were completely destroyed and 50 partially damaged.

According to local media reports, authorities in the department have declared a state of emergency after 2,000 people were affected.

A bridge in Huila was torn from the ground as torrents of water rushed by.

Intense rains, accompanied by strong winds and thunderstorms, also affected Cundinamarca and Aburra Valley. The conditions are unusual during the dry season.

In dramatic television images, dozens of tree trunks and vegetation were seen being dragged by muddy gushes of water in Huila.

“It was a very difficult situation because we have the river some 200 metres away, and we were there, and it came flowing by, and then my grandmother’s house, everything was lost. All the basic essentials are gone. Well, what can you do?” Mudslide victim, Jairo Peralta said.

The overflowing rivers also blocked the Neiva-Rivera-Campoalegre road, which prevented the passage of buses, mules, trucks and private vehicles.

Relief agencies have reported no injuries but several vehicles were swept away by the mudslides and tree trunks covered several kilometres of roads.

Residents were seen trying to salvage their belongings in mud-clogged streets, helped by the police.

“I was at work at the farm at the time, and my two children were here, and I got here as fast as I could, and my children had already gone out,” said Carmen Nieto, who was affected by the mudslides.

Colombia’s Ideam weather office said that January, a month which is regularly dry, was very wet this year, due to a cold front in the Northern Hemisphere accompanied by heavy winds, which changed rain patterns.

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