'Alive by a Miracle,' Colombia Landslide Survivor Tells How Mud Tore Him From His Home

PEREIRA, Colombia (Reuters) – A survivor of a landslide in central Colombia which killed at the least 16 individuals this week described how the early morning rush of mud and water tore him from his dwelling, as native officers warned tens of hundreds may nonetheless be in danger.

The Tuesday landslide, which buried a part of the La Esneda neighborhood on the border of the cities of Dosquebradas and Pereira, adopted heavy rains within the surrounding coffee-growing province.

Drone footage exhibits a deep, brown gash within the in any other case inexperienced hills that loom above the group. Beneath, roofs are caved in, and garments and belongings scattered among the many particles of what as soon as have been properties, all lined in a thick movie of mud.

“It was a couple of quarter previous six when it hit, my household was left trapped there,” mentioned survivor Alvaro Alzate, 62, whose father, brother, niece’s little one and neighbors have been killed. “The mud carried me into the road bare, I went right down to the avenue within the mud.”

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His brother had woken him early, Alzate mentioned, which he believes saved his life.

“We’re alive by a miracle,” mentioned the baker as he noticed ongoing rescue operations with surviving family members, his legs and arms lined in cuts and bruises from the landslide. “It is so laborious, it hurts a lot.”

Thirty-six individuals have been injured and three individuals stay lacking, Colombia’s catastrophe administration company mentioned on Wednesday.

Others could but be in peril, warned regional environmental official Julio Cesar Gomez, who mentioned tens of hundreds of individuals are in unsafe housing close to three space rivers, together with individuals fleeing battle violence and susceptible Venezuelan migrants.

“Every thing is in danger,” he mentioned. “We may simply be speaking about 50,000 people who find themselves positioned in threat areas.”

Seven properties have been destroyed within the avalanche, the catastrophe company has mentioned, and one other 69 have been evacuated.

Landslides are frequent in Colombia because of the mountainous terrain, frequent heavy rains and poor or casual development of homes.

Earlier than the Tuesday landslide, 64 incidents of slides, floods or river overflow had occurred across the nation this 12 months, killing seven individuals, the company mentioned.

The nation’s most up-to-date giant landslide killed over 320 individuals within the metropolis of Mocoa in 2017.

(Reporting by Herbert Villarraga; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Enhancing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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