Massive landslide hits Santa Margarita, northern Colombia

Massive landslide hits Santa Margarita, northern Colombia

At least 47 people have been killed after a massive landslide buried the small town of Santa Margarita around 08:00 UTC (03:00 local time) on Monday, May 18, 2015. According to media reports, heavy rain caused the river Liboriana to burst its banks setting off the landslide. 

Authorities said an undetermined number of people are still missing and the death toll will likely rise. 

Santa Margarita is in the municipality of Salgar, about 100 km (60 miles) SW of provincial capital Medellin: 

Salgar Mayor Olga Osorio told journalists the rush of mud and water tore down everything in its path. The small town of Santa Margarita was practically "wiped off the map," Osorio said.

Survivors told local radio they awoke to sound of a loud rumble and neighbors' shouts of, "The river! The river!" Many were barely able to gather their loved and get out of the way before an avalanche of heavy rock and mud overtook the homes bordering the steep Libordiana ravine, AlJazeera America reports.

Gen. José Ángel Mendoza, the top police official for the area, said the flooding destroyed the town's aqueduct and led to flooding even in less hazardous parts of the town.

According to the FloodList, there are no rainfall figures available for the affected area, although areas of Colombia to the west of Salgar have also seen heavy rainfall. WMO reports that 124 mm of rain fell in 24 hours to May 17, 2015 in Quibdo, Choco, Colombia, about 100 km W of Salgar. 

Mean total precipitation for the month of May in Quibdo is 719 mm. In Medellin, which is located about 100 km NW of Salgar, mean total precipitation for the month of May is 199 mm (WMO data based on monthly averages for the 30-year period 1971 - 2000).

Featured image credit: @globalfiredmgf

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