Mocoa mudslide death toll rises to 316, 332 injured, 103 disappeared and over 17 000 affected, Colombia

Mocoa mudslide death toll rises to 316, 332 injured, 103 disappeared and over 17 000 affected, Colombia

As of 07:00 UTC on April 4, 2017, the number of people that died after massive mudflows hit the Colombian city of Mocoa on April 1 has risen to 273. Meanwhile, IDEAM has issued new Red Alerts for floods and landslides.

The number of people that died in Mocoa after three rivers burst their banks causing devastating mudflows on April 1 has risen to 273. There are over 200 injuries, at least 550 displaced and more than 300 families affected.

The government is still searching for victims and has started to bury the 273 found bodies to avoid the spread of diseases. It has also begun vaccination against infection.

President Juan Manuel Santos, who made a third visit to the area on Monday, 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, according to Reuters.

Colombia landslide aftermath - April 2017

Colombia landslide aftermath - April 2017. Credit: Colombian Air Force

Colombia landslide aftermath - April 2017. Credit: Colombian Air Force

Colombia landslide aftermath - April 2017

Colombia landslide aftermath - April 2017. Credit: Colombian Air Force

Landslides expert Dr. Dave Petley said a good working hypothesis for the cause of this event 'is that one or more shallow landslides slipped into the channel to become a channelised debris flow, which then entrained large volumes of debris from the channel to create the monster that struck Mocoa.'

"An alternative, but less likely cause might be that a landslide blocked the channel, and then collapsed to release the debris. A good quality satellite image will reveal the truth in due course," Petley said.

Over the next 24 h, moderate to locally heavy rain may affect several areas of the west, central and south of the country, including the ones already affected. The weather forecast for Mocoa is cloudy, with moderate rain intervals and the possibility of local showers.

As of 07:00 UTC on April 4, the Institute for Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM) has issued a Red Alert for floods in the departments of Putumayo, especially in the city of Mocoa. It has also issued a Red Alert for floods and landslides in the departments of Narino, Valle del Cauca, Meta, Antioquia and Santander.

Update:

This is one the deadliest disasters in Colombian history with 316 people dead, 332 injured, 103 disappeared and over 17 000 affected people. The reconstruction process is still underway as of August 2018 and many people are still living in temporary shelters.

Featured image credit: Colombian Air Force

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