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Latino Daily News

Sunday October 7, 2012

Search Teams Continue to Scour Southern Colombia for Mudslide Victims

Search Teams Continue to Scour Southern Colombia for Mudslide Victims

Photo: Mudslide in Colombia

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Search teams resumed looking Sunday for 11 people reported missing after a mudslide in Villas del Prado, a hamlet outside the southwestern Colombian city of Isnos, with the official death toll from the disaster at four, officials said.

The mudslide buried the hamlet on Saturday, the National Risk Assessment Unit, or UNGRD, said.

The number of missing has been revised upward by two to 11, the disaster management agency said.

Rescue teams also revised the death toll down to four from the five reported on Saturday, UNGRD spokeswoman Sandra Calvo told Efe by telephone.

“They told us that they thought they had spotted another body, but they did not find it,” the UNGRD spokeswoman said.

Six people were injured in the mudslide, which destroyed 13 houses, damaged 20 other dwellings and affected at least 165 people in the hamlet, which is in Huila province, the UNGRD said.

Firefighters from Isnos and the neighboring town of Pitalito, located more than 150 kilometers (93 miles) south of Neiva, the capital of Huila, are working to find the missing people.

National Police, army, emergency management office and Red Cross personnel are also taking part in the search and recovery operation, the UNGRD said in a statement.

More than 150 rescue workers and security forces members are involved in the operation, the UNGRD said.

The mudslide in Villa del Prado was caused when the La Chorrera stream overflowed its banks.

Heavy rains made the stream overflow, causing the mudslide around 6:00 a.m. Saturday that hit Villa del Prado and other rural areas outside Isnos.

Floodwaters from La Chorrera also affected the neighboring hamlet of Remolinos, officials said.

The government is preparing to send a Health Ministry team to assist the people affected by the mudslide.

The stream that caused the mudslide is a tributary of the Magdalena River, Colombia’s largest waterway.

The Villas del Prado disaster is the first registered during Colombia’s second annual rainy season, which lasts from October through December.