In northwest Colombia, a landslide has left at least 33 people dead, with children constituting the majority of the victims. The toll may rise as rescue operations continue, with 19 others reported injured and efforts to locate those still missing. The landslide occurred in the Choco department, near the community of Carmen de Atrato.
The events leading to this tragedy began with landslides that forced the closure of the road connecting the cities of Medellín and Quibdo.
Faced with the road closure, people sought refuge in a house, only to be struck by another landslide that buried both the shelter and some vehicles.
Colombian President Gustavo Preto has vowed to provide all help available to the Choco region. The affected region, bordering the Pacific Ocean, is characterized by dense forests and has experienced rainfall in the days leading up to the incident.
The local mayor has reported that some individuals are still trapped beneath the debris. Eye-witnesses have shared accounts of the suddenness of the landslide.
One survivor, who chose to remain anonymous, recounted how the house, initially offering refuge, was engulfed by the landslide within seconds.
The tragedy struck as people sought shelter from heavy rain, with some reports indicating that food, including sausage and fried plantain, was being offered to those seeking refuge just before disaster struck.
Vice President Francia Márquez Mina, in a social media post, conveyed the deployment of relief agencies, local authorities, police, and the army to support the search and rescue efforts in the Choco province.
The images circulating on social media and television depict the incident, with cars destroyed and buried by mud and fallen rocks.
This calamity has impacted Colombia, media coverage and an outpouring of condolences on social media platforms.
The Choco province, situated on the Pacific Ocean, has been vulnerable to the combination of heavy rains and challenging terrain.
While Colombia is experiencing a period of drought, the country’s Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology, and Environmental Studies had warned about the dangers posed by heavy rains in areas bordering the Pacific and the Amazon rainforest.
Colombia has seen similar disasters in the past. In December 2022, another landslide in the same region claimed the lives of at least 27 people, trapping them in a bus and other vehicles.