Colombia landslide kills 19, more than 100 missing

Rescuers pulled 19 bodies from a mudslide in northwestern Colombia where more than 100 people are still missing after weeks of heavy rain across the Andean nation.

Colombia landslide kills 19, more than 100 missing

Rescuers pulled 19 bodies on Monday from a mudslide in northwestern Colombia where more than 100 people are still missing after weeks of heavy rain across the Andean nation.

Relatives sobbed as rescue workers and neighbors used earthmovers, picks and shovels to dig through the mud after a sodden hillside collapsed on Sunday and buried 50 homes in Bello town, near Antioquia province's capital Medellin.

"In total we have recovered 19 bodies and we are still searching," said Jorge Ivan Nova, sub-director of rescue operations at the Red Cross. "We are still working because there is hope we could find people alive."

Rescuers also used dogs to search for survivors.

Bello's government secretary, Diego Munoz, said 124 people were missing while other officials have said there were up to 145 people.

Rain and flooding have forced 1.5 million people from their homes this year in what the government calls one of the worst natural disasters in Colombia's history. The bad weather has also hindered the coffee, coal and agriculture sectors.

Neighboring Venezuela is suffering as well, with tens of thousands of people displaced and President Hugo Chavez blaming "criminal" capitalism for climate changes.

In Bello, Orfanely Madrigal cried as rescuers and residents slowly dug at the mud that buried her children, her mother and other family members.

"I foresaw this tragedy. I told my mother this was a high-risk area but nobody believed me," she said. "I've lost half my family -- my mother, four brothers, nephews and my 13- and 10-year-old daughters," she said on local radio.

President Juan Manuel Santos said on Sunday the number of people displaced by the rains could reach 2 million. Before Sunday's disaster, heavy rains had killed around 170 people this year in Colombia.

The downpours in recent months are due to the La Nina weather phenomenon, which the government's weather office expects to last into the first quarter of next year.

Flooding of agricultural land and the washing away of roads will raise inflation but not so much as to change consumer price targets, officials said.

Bad weather has affected commodity-producing countries worldwide, from rains stalling the wheat harvest in Australia to dry spells in some of Argentina's soy-growing areas and oil refinery outages in OPEC member Venezuela.


Reuters

Last Mod: 07 Aralık 2010, 10:31
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