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Colombia: Damage and despair in mudslide-hit Mocoa


Colombia: Damage and despair in mudslide-hit Mocoa

Dozens of victims of the Colombian landslide were being buried on Tuesday, amid scenes of devastation and despair in the stricken southern town of Mocoa.

After a night of torrential rain, at least 273 people were killed, early on Saturday, when several rivers burst their banks, sending water, mud and debris crashing down onto streets and into houses.

Many of the dead were children.

Decomposing bodies are being laid to rest as quickly as possible to avoid the spread of disease. The government has begun vaccinations against infection.

Many families have spent days and nights digging through the debris with their hands despite a lack of food, clean water and electricity.

Efforts are underway to restore power and bulldozers have moved in to remove the mud and rocks.

With his home reduced to rubble, local resident Luis Vasante needs shelter and asks for rebuilding to begin.

“There’s no walls left, there’s nothing, no clothing,” he said.

“We were left with nothing…We don’t have anything to eat, or anything else.”

President Juan Manuel Santos, who has visited the scene, blamed climate change for the disaster, saying Mocoa had received one-third of its usual monthly rain in just one night, causing the rivers to burst their banks.

Others said deforestation in surrounding mountains meant there were few trees to prevent water washing down bare slopes.

There have also been warnings that hundreds of other Colombian towns face a landslide risk.

Hundreds of people are in emergency housing, with a government aid operation in place.

As for the more than 200 men, women and children still missing, hopes of finding survivors have now all but faded.

with Reuters


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