The number of confirmed victims of Saturday’s devastating landslide in the city of Manizales has reached 41, local authorities announced Tuesday.
Experts at the Manizales Emergency Comittee and technicians from regional environmental specialists Corpocaldas have confirmed that the landslide which devasted the Cervantes neighbourhood of Manizales was caused by an “unexpected and abrupt” build up of water in recent days.
The Corpocaldas director Juan David Arango explained that the situation had been very dificult to predict and that the area of the city was not considered at a particularly high risk. He revealed that no erosion had been recorded over the winter, that there were no obvious geological faults in the area and that it was not a problem of unstable soils, which would have triggered a more immediate response.
Local authorities responsible for monitoring erosion and predicting landslides visited Cervantes two days before the disaster, but thy did not include the neighborhood in the list of high risk areas. Initial findings have suggested that the landslide resulted from short, intense rain fall and that there were no obvious long term causes, making the disaster difficult to predict.
The mayor of Manizales, Juan Manuel Llano, said that they had not received any warnings from experts or local inhabitants prior to the disaster. He noted that this was of particular concern, and that there may be other areas of the city at risk.
Carlos Ivan Marquez, director of risk management at the Interior Ministry, noted that the city was on red alert but that there seems to have been no efforts to evacuate the area.
“We want to review current procedures so risk alerts are made known to all agencies. We are reviewing current strategies and communication will be a part of this evaluation” Marquez explained.
In light of these comments, the mayor of Manizales insisted that the central government had not suggested an evacuation of the area, noting that the entire city was on red alert and that this particular neighbourhood was not considered a high risk area.
The local leader insisted that their efforts had the full suport of the national government and that they were doing everything they could to support the victims of the tragedy.
“We are doing everything humanly possible to organise rescue efforts” he insists, adding “we now have to concentrate on the problem of rescuing the remaining people.”