254 killed, hundreds missing after landslide engulfs Colombian city (VIDEO)

254 killed, hundreds missing after landslide engulfs Colombian city  (VIDEO)Colombian rescuers have been searching frantically for hundreds of missing people after the southern city of Mocoa was engulfed by a huge landslide of mud, rocks and gushing waters that swept away homes and cars.

This is reported by The Guardian.

The disaster struck in the early hours of Saturday when the rushing waters of the Mocoa river and its tributaries converged on the capital of Putumayo province, catching many people by surprise as they slept.

Officials from the national disaster agency had counted 210 dead by Sunday morning, with 62 children among the victims. The government later revised the death toll up to 254. A further 203 people were injured, many in a critical condition.

“We have a huge challenge to find the missing,” said the director of Colombia’s disaster agency, Carlos Iván Márquez, adding that 400 rescuers were scouring the riversides for victims and survivors while helicopters searched from the air.

More than 1,000 emergency personnel, including soldiers and local police, were deployed to help the rescue effort and to keep order.

On Saturday, Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos blamed the tragedy on climate change, saying that the accumulated rainfall in one night was almost half the amount Mocoa normally receives in the entire month of March.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis said he was “profoundly saddened” by the disaster, which struck the town of 40,000 with little warning after days of torrential rain. “I pray for the victims and want to assure those who weep for the missing of my closeness to them,” the pontiff said in a statement.
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