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At least 22 dead or missing following severe flash floods and landslides in Colombia


Severe flash floods and landslides due to persistent heavy rain claimed at least eight lives and left 14 missing in central-north Colombia, national authorities reported on Wednesday, February 26, 2020. An orange alert has been issued for mudslides in the affected areas as moderate rain is expected to continue to Friday, February 28.

In the Santander department, torrential rains triggered the overflow of several local rivers in the municipality of Piedecuesta. Colombia's National Unit for Management of Disaster Risk (UNGRD) initially reported three deaths and six others missing.

At least seven people also sustained injuries, including three who were rescued.

UNGRD said small rivers and creeks broke their banks, causing damage to roads and houses in the area. Floodwaters prompted more than 150 people to evacuate.

Authorities have since closed the roads in the afflicted areas.

The national government has provided support for the emergency response in the affected municipality while search and rescue operations are underway. Police, civil defense, and fire service are all involved in the mission.

In the Caldas department, a mudslide pounded a neighborhood in the Los Mangos of Chinchina municipality on February 26. As a result, two houses were destroyed while three sustained damages.

Five people also lost their lives in the tragedy, bringing the death toll to eight.

According to the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM), the strongest rains are expected in the Amazonia region on Thursday, February 27. Rain will decrease in the Andina zone, except in Huila and Santander.

An orange alert for landslides has been issued for Caldas as moderate rain will continue over the affected areas to February 28.

Heavy downpours also sparked flash floods in Santander last month. In 2017, at least 16 people were killed in landslides in Caldas.

Featured image credit: UNGRD

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