The Echo Heard Round the World: Deadly Landslide Strikes in Colombia

Late in the evening March 31, and early into the morning April 1, a landslide in Mocoa, Colombia killed 262 people including at least 62 children, according to President Juan Manuel Santos. In addition, at least 203 are injured, many in critical condition.

One of the most disheartening issues about the story is that children, at the time the landslide struck, were in bed, which left them particularly vulnerable.

The city of Mocoa was specifically harmed by the landslide because it is a city surrounded by rivers and mountains in the southern region of Colombia.

According to The Guardian, this has been one of the worst natural disasters to strike the country in years.

A local spokeswoman for the power utility said it will take up to two weeks to restore energy in the area again. This poses numerous problems for the people that are still on the lookout for more rainfall that could cause another landslide at any moment.

The rescue effort has been made up of 1,000 emergency personnel, including local soldiers and police.

Father Omar Parra, a local priest, told Colombian television that everyone was doing what they could to assist.

“Help is mainly coming from other parishes,” he said. “We’ve created an emergency committee and we’re doing what we can. Assistance hasn’t yet arrived; it’s just beginning to now. We understand that neither the regional nor the municipal authorities were prepared for this catastrophe so we’re doing what we can.”

President Santos has said that, “today the reconstruction begins…may Mocoa be better than before.” In addition, he also blamed the tragedy on climate change, saying that the accumulated rainfall in one night was almost half the among Mocoa normally received in the entire month of March, according to the Guardian.
Some critics, according the BBC, are saying that President Santos should have done more to protect the area from such disasters. Currently, the president is putting forth 40,000m pesos towards “addressing humanitarian priorities.”

 

Photo Courtesy of Reuters

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