Mocoa: Aftermath of the catastrophic landslide

By Phoebe Hopson April 2, 2017
Mocoa, landslide Colombia

A shoeless girl is helped across the destroyed street in Mocoa, Putumayo. Photos:

Hundreds of people are confirmed dead as Mocoa continues to struggle in the aftermath of the catastrophic landslide which hit on Friday night.

Colombia finds itself in a state of shock in the aftermath of the catastrophic landslide that devastated the riverside city of Mocoa. According to President Manuel Santos, the death toll has reached 254 with local media reporting a much higher figure. The total numbers of casualties will likely rise as the rescue operation continues and the missing are accounted for.

Video: Joaquín Uribe / Phoebe Hopson.

The tragedy occurred late at night after heavy rainfall caused the Mocoa river and its tributaries the Sangoyaco and Mulatos to burst their banks. An avalanche of water and rocks flattened many of the towns’ barrios, washing away cars and leaving people without electricity and water. President Santos has announced that electricity has returned to the main square and that local the hospital is now being run by an generator and has been connected to drinkable water.

Government and international organisations worked throughout Saturday night despite weather warnings. Much of their efforts have been focused on regaining access to the city in the Amazonian department of Putumayo. The mudslides have blocked roads and destroyed bridges in the already remote area. At 1am last night the National Agency for Infrastructure (ANI) announced via Twitter that they had successfully gained access by road. In a press statement plans were revealed to build a metal bridge that will connect Mocoa with neighbouring Pitalito. In the meantime, the Colombian Air Force has been transporting casualties to hospitals in neighbouring Neiva and Popayán.

Video: Joaquín Uribe / Phoebe Hopson.

In a televised press release, the Health Minister Alejandro Gaviria Uribe said three shelters are being built that will all have access to medical attention. The Minister also stated that on Monday experts will be arriving in Mocoa to advise against potential disease outbreaks.

The international community have expressed their condolences for the people of Mocoa. Colombia has also received donations including $1m dollars in aid from China.