At least 40 dead, dozens missing in Colombian landslide

Reuters News
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Posted: May 18, 2015 11:51 AM

BOGOTA (Reuters) - At least 40 people have been killed and dozens are missing after a landslide in northwest Colombia in the early hours of Monday, officials said.

Heavy rains caused a ravine to overflow, sending mud and water onto neighboring homes in Salgar, located in Antioquia department.

"We still do not have an exact figure, I only know that there are more than 40 dead, many families displaced, but I still can't give an exact figure," local official Zulma Osorio told local Caracol Radio.

"The tragedy is of an immense magnitude," she added. "There are many more dead, the whole town is totally collapsed."

Photographs released by the country's air force and television news footage showed destroyed homes and streets covered in mud and debris in the town, which is located in a mountainous area close to the Colombian Andes.

Residents were pictured picking through rubble looking for survivors.

"This was so terrible, we heard rocks hitting, the water dragged us and we had to go to the kitchen and climb up onto the roof," a local man told Caracol.

President Juan Manuel Santos, who is traveling to the town, said via Twitter that Colombia's government will provide aid to the victims.

"We are attending to the emergency in Salgar. Those affected will receive all our support," he said.

(Reporting by Nelson Bocanegra,; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Richard Chang)