At least 16 people have been killed and 36 injured after heavy rainfall triggered a landslide that buried several homes near Pereira, authorities said Wednesday.
The landslide, which swept away several houses in the La Esneda neighborhood, located between Pereira and neighboring Dosquebradas, occurred early Tuesday because of the downpour that fell in the surrounding coffee-growing province.
At 10.25 a.m. Wednesday, authorities said another body was found in Dosquebradas, raising the death toll to 16.
Authorities have evacuated 68 nearby homes as the Otun River overflows due to heavy rain.
Residents reported that buildings were swept into the river that flows through Pereira.
A similar tragedy occurred 25 years ago in the area that experiences rising river waters during the rainy season.
“The banks of the Otun River have overflowed many times and although we have cleared (the area) so that families are not living amid that risk, many people return. Now, we’re focused on recovering the bodies and finding more survivors, and later we’ll think about relocation,” said Pereira´s Mayor Carlos Maya.
The emergency was initially dealt with by firefighters from Dosquebradas but the Red Cross was later called to assist.
President Ivan Duque regretted the tragedy and said relief teams were attending the emergency.
"My deepest condolences to the families of the deceased and my support to the people from Risaralda in this difficult moment. We are with you," Duque wrote on Twitter.
The storm that triggered the landslide dropped the equivalent 93 mm (4 inches) of rain, which would normally fall in 15 days.
Authorities hope that once the rains stop, machines can enter to clean streets that are covered with mud and debris./aa