The search for the bodies of people killed by a landslide in the Antioquia department continues, with more than 300 people taking to the street in support of the victims and their families.
Around 30 people were buried by the landslide in the northwest of Colombia, which engulfed a highway in the town of Giraldo.
“It’s official. There are no survivors,” said John Rendon, Antioquia’s disaster prevention chief. He added that the rescue team has been unable to recover any bodies due to the large amount of dirt and debris, and recent rainfall which has complicated the operation, reports RCN.
Families and friends of victims object to Rendon’s statement, with many still holding out hope that there are survivors are awaiting rescue.
Daniela Salas, a 16-year-old whose stepfather was caught in the landslide, organized the march of over 300 people calling for rescue operations to continue.
The coordinator of the Civil Defense forces confirmed that a victim made cell phone calls to the family members from beneath the earth, according to El Tiempo.
It is becoming apparent that the destroyed highway, which connects the town to Medellin, is leading to severe shortages of food and fuel, reports El Colombiano. Now that the road is blocked, people must either climb the steep, muddy mountain where the landslide occurred or take another difficult path a mile away that is longer and muddier than the mountain trek. Either passage is dangerous and close to impossible for the elderly or very young.
To make matters worse, one property owner along the path refuses to let animals pass through, saying that “the tragedy is not my problem.”
Heriberto Tuberquia, a farmer in the region, stated “we won’t die because of the flood, but because of hunger.”
As families continue to demand an intensified search, five teams of rescue workers are searching for bodies in the lower part of the landslide.
The landslide occurred during an especially heavy rainy season in Central and South America. In Colombia, 74 people have been killed by floods and other incidents related to the extreme weather since the beginning of the year.