Colombia: Rescue teams continue search for survivors as deadly mudslides destroy parts of Manizales

Recent heavy rains have endangered residents in dozens of provincial towns, where makeshift construction on the slopes of the Andes makes neighbourhoods particularly susceptible to landslides and flooding.

Colombian rescue teams continue to search through several neighbourhoods in Manizales on Wednesday (19 April) where dozens have died and many are still missing in the second deadly landslide to hit the country this month.

Homes are destroyed following the mudslidesAFP/Getty Images
A member of the rescue team finds a toy house among the rubbleSantiago Osorio/Reuters
People and rescue agencies look for bodies in a destroyed area after mudslidesSantiago Osorio/Reuters

Recent heavy rains have endangered residents in dozens of provincial towns, where makeshift construction on the slopes of the Andes makes neighbourhoods particularly susceptible to landslides and flooding. The landslide in Manizales, capital of Caldas province west of Bogota, followed a similar disaster in Mocoa, Putumayo earlier this month that killed more than 320 people and displaced thousands from their homes.

President Juan Manuel Santos said it had rained in Manizales like never before, following comments from the city's mayor that a month's average rainfall came in one night.

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Emergency services work at the site of the mudslidesAFP/Getty Images
Rescue members recover a body in a house following the mudslidesReuters
A rescue dog searches for bodies in an area destroyed by the mudslidesSantiago Osorio/Reuters
View of a neighbourhood that was destroyed by the mudslidesSantiago Osorio/Reuters
A dog waits to be rescued on a muddy bank following the mudslidesSantiago Osorio/Reuters
General view of a neighbourhood that was destroyed by the mudslidesSantiago Osorio/Reuters
General view of a neighbourhood that was destroyed by the mudslidesSantiago Osorio/Reuters

Santos said he was trying to get to the scene, but was delayed by continuing bad weather which had led to the closure of surrounding airports. He said the director of the national Risk Unit and the Transport Minister had reached the area.

Even in a country where rains, a mountainous landscape and informal construction combine to make landslides a common occurrence, the scale of the Mocoa disaster was daunting compared with recent tragedies, including a 2015 landslide that killed nearly 100 people. Colombia's deadliest landslide, the 1985 Armero disaster, killed more than 20,000.

Families wait in a shelter after mudslides destroyed their homesSantiago Osorio/Reuters
A woman sits in a shelterSantiago Osorio/Reuters

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