Three overflowing rivers raged through the southern city of Mocoa, Colombia early this morning leaving death and despair in its wake. As residents of the city of 40,000 slept their homes were swept away by an avalanche of water, mud, and debris as a result of non-stop rains over the last week.
The Red Cross and Colombian authorities are reporting 154 dead, 220 missing and over 400 injured. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos who visited Mocoa this afternoon stated the death toll could rise as mud and debris is cleared from streets. Mocoa is located 385 mile south of Bogota. The city mayor Jose Castro announced that at least 17 neighborhoods in Mocoa no longer exist.
President Santos has declared a state of emergency in Mocoa, located in the Putumayo province, close to the country’s southern border with Ecuador. Around midnight three river overflowed washing away bridges, roads, uprooting trees, cars and homes. The day before Mocoa was drenched in 5 inches of rain. Some homes that were not swept away were covered in mud up to their roof tops. Many were not given any warning of the water avalanche heading their way.
Peru, Colombia’s neighbor to the south, has been experiencing torrential rains, as well, that have killed nearly 100 people and displaced 700,000.
Rescue workers including the Colombian military continue to search for survivors while fear at local hospitals rises as blood supplies dwindle to treat the hundreds injured.
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