The death toll for this year’s rainy season in Colombia is now 97, and 1 million people have been affected, the Red Cross said Monday.
According to the director of the Colombian Red Cross, Carlos Ivan Marquez, nearly one million people in 28 of 32 departments suffered damages to their lands or homes caused by the rains.
Marquez specified that “the winter season is affecting the northern regions of the country the hardest, mainly the Cesar and Atlantico departments and the La Mojana zone. Nearly 990 million people are affected. The season is affecting 471 municipalities plus the capital district, with 97 people killed. It is expected that the rainfall will increase in the following days due to a growth in the power of La Niña.”
Colombian meteorology institute Ideam predicts La Niña will stay active at least until the first trimester of 2011, bringing more rain over the next months.
Marquez stated that the zones most likely to be affected are around the Magdalena and Cauca rivers. He said he had contacted the mayors of the zones at high risk to activate their rescue plans for evacuation of their communities when necessary, and not to wait until a disaster occurs and more lives are lost. Ideam continues to classify the Atlantico with an orange alert, which means there is a threat the river Magdalena will overflow and threaten the surrounding communities.
The weather is also affecting roads due to landslides.
Furthermore, the coffee industry is suffering from the weather. According to the general manager of the National Federation of Coffee Growers, Luis Genaro Muñoz Ortega, only 9,5 million bags of coffee will be produced in 2010, instead of the estimated 10 million bags because of rain entering coffee grains.
According to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, this winter is the worst the country has experienced in recent years and stressed that mayors and governors should activate their rescue plans. In November, Santos will start a campaign to help the victims of the weather conditions.