Rescue workers have recovered the bodies of 18 victims in the central Colombia city of Manizales, where heavy rains caused a deadly landslide and mass evacuations.
Two more neighborhoods had to be evacuated at dawn on Thursday after a second night of thunderstorms elevated the risk of further landslides.
Some 500 families have so far been effected by Tuesday’s landslide in the south of the city. Nine people are still missing, 23 are injured and some 400 have been evacuated from their homes as a preventative measure, according to the latest reports.
The rain began coming down on Manizales about 7:30PM on Tuesday, but in such quantities that numerous of the mountainous city’s streams overflowed and part of the Sancasio hill came down in an avalanche.
The heavy rainfall has continued since, causing several more landslides affecting the Aranjuez, Camilo Torres and Bajo Persia neighborhoods.
At 9AM on Thursday, Manizales Mayor Octavio Cardona announced that rescue operations in the Bajo Persia neighborhood had been temporarily suspended due to the heavy precipitation.
Seven of the 12 bridges that were impacted by Tuesday’s disaster are now back in operation, according to Cardona.
The municipality’s Risk Management Committee announced a state of public emergency yesterday, activating contingency plans meaning that victims will be provided with with aid kits, resources to pay rent and funeral aid, reported newspaper El Espectador.
Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos visited Manizales Wednesday afternoon.
“I want to tell the families of the victims that our hearts are with them. We have come to express our solidarity and accompany them in this tragedy and in this pain, “he said.
The deadly Manizales landslide was the second natural disaster to hit Colombia this month.
The capital of the Putumayo department, Mocoa, was partly destroyed by mudslides and avalanches on April 1. More than 300 have been found dead since, while approximately 100 people who were reported missing were never found.
Colombia’s first rainy season of the year came together with “La Niña,” a Pacific weather phenomenon, making the tropical rains even more extreme than they usually are.