Colombian authorities on Tuesday announced they had started a rescue operation in the north of the Antioquia department, where a landslide buried 20 to 30 people on Monday.
The landslide occurred in the town of Giraldo where 3.5 million cubic feet (100,000 cubic meters) of earth swept onto the highway connecting Medellin to the north-western Uraba region.
John Rendon, Antioquia’s disaster prevention chief, told Caracol Radio that rescue efforts are made difficult by ongoing rain and the risk of more landslides.
Rendon initially told French news agency AFP that 30 people were trapped under the rubble, but later said the amount of people buried is between 20 and 30.
According to the official, helicopters from the air force and from the departmental government have transported the first rescue teams to the area, where an unknown number of survivors have been rescued from the rubble. The Red Cross also sent a helicopter with nine rescue workers.
Because of the ongoing rains and fears of more landslides, the road between Uraba and the tourist town of Santa Fe de Antioquia will remain closed until further notice, local traffic authorities said.
According to the local government there is little chance that any of the people buried under the rubble survived. Local transport authorities had already warned about an imminent landslide in Giraldo and had suspended road works in the area earlier on Monday after smaller landslides caused by heavy rains.