On Saturday, the vice president of Colombia reported that a landslide in an indigenous community in northwestern Colombia claimed the lives of at least 33 people, the majority of whom were children.
As they labored through the viscous mud, rescuers raced against the clock to discover survivors buried in the debris.
“I profoundly lament the loss of 33 lives in this tragedy; preliminary reports from the territory indicate that the majority of those killed were children,” Vice President Francia Marquez wrote on X, the former Twitter.
When Friday’s landslide struck a road connecting the cities of Medellin and Quibdo in the Choco department, authorities had previously estimated that twenty individuals were injured and twenty were killed.
“Every available assistance is being dispatched to Choco in light of this tragic event,” stated President Gustavo Petro on social media on Friday.
Authorities in Medellin reported that forensic examiners had identified three of the seventeen bodies that had been transported there as of early Saturday morning. The names of none were disclosed.
Rescue personnel and firefighters had difficulty accessing the most severely affected region due to multiple road closures; one official informed AFP that a request had been made for helicopter assistance.
“On the Quibdo-Medellin road, we have been collaborating with emergency and relief organizations since last night,” the police stated. “We utilized our entire force to rescue and assist those who were impacted.”
An additional fifty soldiers were dispatched to provide aid; army-released photographs depicted men drenched in dirt as they traversed swampy terrain.
A vast tropical forest situated on the Pacific Ocean in Choco, the location of the landslide occurred after over twenty-four hours of intense rainfall.
Many travelers, whose vehicles were obstructed by an earlier landslide on Friday, abandoned their vehicles and sought refuge in a home near the municipality of Carmen de Atrato, according to a local official who spoke to AFP.
“However, they were buried beneath an avalanche,” the official said under the condition of anonymity.
Television networks and social media platforms disseminated images depicting a segment of a mountain rupturing into flames and crashing onto a line of vehicles, accompanied by audible screams.
At least 27 people were murdered in December 2022 when a landslide in the same region of Colombia ensnared individuals in buses and other vehicles.
Amidst widespread arid conditions throughout Colombia, the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies has issued a warning regarding the potential for intense precipitation in the Amazon and various departments that share a border with the Pacific.