Death Toll in Colombia Landslide Disaster Rises to 254 as Aid Begins to Arrive; 500 People Displaced

Firefighters and rescuers cover with a blanket the body of a woman in Mocoa, Colombia, Sunday, April 2, 2017.
Firefighters and rescuers cover with a blanket the body of a woman in Mocoa, Colombia, Sunday, April 2, 2017.

Colombian authorities scrambled to deliver aid and return basic services like electricity and water to the wreckage of Mocoa, a city of 40,000 struck by a devastating wall of floodwaters and landslides on Friday.

Authorities rushed to bring in critical supplies even as families and rescue workers scrambled through debris in search of victims and any remaining survivors.

The death toll rose to 254 on Sunday, president Juan Manuel Santos announced on his Twitter account, even as some 1,300 search and rescue workers accompanied by trained dogs canvassed the area.

At least 43 children were among the victims, Colombia’s national disaster agency, NGRC, said.

In a speech on Sunday, Santos said that heavy rain unleashed flooding and landslides of “unprecedented” force that swept away “whole neighborhoods” and destroyed the city’s main electric plant and water supply.

Officials said electricity had been partially restored to the ravaged city as 20 tons of aid supplies arrived, but many residents struggled to get clean water, creating a potentially serious health hazard to the survivors.

Santos announced the “immediate” start to work on a new aqueduct to bring potable water to the city.

More than 500 people remained displaced on Sunday evening. At least 200 people sustained injuries in the disaster that impacted at least 300 families, according to officials.

SOURCE: J.J. GALLAGHER
ABC News