Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos sent a message of solidarity to populations in northern Cundinamarca affected by the flooding of the Bogota River, after being unable to land in the area due to inclement weather conditions, the president’s website reported Sunday.
Santos flew over the Cundinamarca department municipality of Villapinzon with plans to touch down and personally address residents of the area, but was unable to land due to the weather. Instead, he sent a message via cellphone to the affected populations, offering assistance in making it through the crisis.
“To all of our friends in Villapinzon, I tell them that for whatever they need, we are there for them. I hope that the assistance has arrived punctually,” said the head of state in a text message.
The president apologized for his inability to land in the area, stating, “In the face of everything I feel very, very badly, that I haven’t been able to enter [the area], but the bad weather prevented us, we made all the maneuvers possible but the pilots finally gave up, they told me it was impossible. I wanted to be present.”
Santos also thanked the department’s governor, mayors and authorities for being present to help deal with the disaster, and added, “If they are missing anything, all they have to do is communicate with us in order for us to begin doing what is necessary so that you all may come out of this as quickly and as well as possible.”
Authorities have recommended that numerous residents of the zone affected by the flooding of the river leave their houses. Cundinamarca Government Secretary Alvaro Bernal said that they are monitoring the rest of the department in an attempt to prevent further harm to the population there, Caracol Radio reported.
According to a Saturday report by a government agency, since May of last year, weather conditions have caused 448 deaths, while 73 have gone missing and more than 3.3 million people have been affected by the crisis.