President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos expressed his regret over the loss of lives and declared a 30 day state of emergency that could be extended, if the downpours battering the Antioquia region don’t subside.
Weather experts say the storms and showers season could last until March.
Flooding and landslides caused by torrential rain have killed 206 people and left more than 1.5 million people homeless in 28 of the 32 state provinces of the northern most south american nation.
“We have decided to declare an economic, social and environmental state of emergency in the disaster area for 30 days, an we’ll probably extend it up to 90 days” said Santos, after evaluating damages in the area where authorities estimate at least 100 people lost their lives to the massive landslides of the weekend.
“The priority of all our actions here and in the whole country is to save lives and lighten the suffering of the people, then we will think about how to repair the damages,” said the president and urged regional governors to evacuate high risk areas, saying the mud avalanche was a “tragedy foretold” that could happen again if measures aren’t applied.
“To all the residents of this high risk zone, I ask you: in so far as is possible, let us evacuate this area. They have shown me places where what happened on Sunday could happen again and we have to avoid that,” Santos said.
President Santos promised his government would build 1000 new homes in Bello, Antioquia for victims who lost their homes or had to be evacuated, and would help pay their rent until they could be relocated.
The Disasters and Emergencies Coordinator of the Social Protection Ministry, Luis Fernando Correa assured that the affected families will receive 10 million colombian pesos (around $5,000) and the injured will get an endowment “to give them aid, for transportation, emergency medical service, hospitalization, medicines and rehabilitation,” as the region has been declared a disaster zone.