The Heat Is Online

Mudslides Kill 26 in Colombia

By Associated Press and, Reuters, 04/16/99 (The Boston Globe)

BOGOTA - Mudslides killed at least 26 people in western Colombia yesterday, many of them rescuers swept away while digging for victims, authorities said. At least a dozen people were missing and feared dead. After weeks of torrential rains, the mudslides plowed under several blocks of the town of Argelia, 150 miles west of Bogota. The first slide occurred before dawn, the second after rescue workers had arrived. Among the victims were firefighters, police officers, and civil defense workers who were sent out in response to a first mudslide, said Alfonso Vargas, a Colombian Red Cross official (AP)

Nine More Killed in Torrential Colombia Rains

April 12, 1999

BOGOTA - At least nine people died in two landslides in Colombia's central coffee-growing region on Sunday, pushing the death toll from heavy rains to 24 since Friday, local media said.

Six people were reported to have been killed when a house in the village of Cienaga, in central Risaralda province, was flattened by an avalanche of rocks and mud.

Three others, including a 20-month-old baby girl, died when flash floods triggered another landslide near the town of Guatica, in the same province, the Radionet radio news network said. Civil defence officials could not immediately be contacted for comment.

The government's national disaster relief agency said 15 people died on Friday in western Choco, southwest Cauca and northwest Cordoba provinces after torrential rains caused rivers to flood and triggered landslides.

An estimated 3,000 people have so far been left homeless by the unusually heavy rains.

(C) Reuters Limited 1999.

Colombian mudslides kill at least 41

Victims include rescue workers; death toll could rise, officials say

Reuters/MSNBC

BOGOTA, Colombia, April 15 — An avalanche of mud and rocks killed at least 41 people — many of them searching for bodies from a previous landslide — in a town nestled into the Andean mountains of western Colombia, authorities said Friday.

Thursday’s avalanche was thought to have been triggered by a devastating earthquake that tore through Colombia’s central coffee-growing region on Jan. 25.

Red Cross and Civil Defense workers, firemen and municipal officials had been working in the poor, coffee-growing town of Argelia to extract a small group of people trapped by a landslide that struck just after dawn Thursday, when tons of rocks and earth came crashing down on the rescue site. Red Cross officials and Argelia’s mayor, Senobia Ospina, said 41 corpses had been pulled out from under the rubble by midday Friday.

But Ospina told Reuters the number of victims could rise to about 50, since up to nine townspeople were unaccounted for and may be buried beneath the chunk of mountain that came crashing down on the town.

"We’re still looking for nine more people," Ospina said, adding that a mass funeral service was to be held in Argelia Friday afternoon.

Much of Colombia has been lashed by unusually heavy rains this year associated by meteorologists with the La Nina weather phenomenon caused by cooling currents in the Pacific Ocean.

But apart from torrential rains, Ospina said Thursday’s avalanche was thought to have been triggered by a devastating earthquake that tore through Colombia’s central coffee-growing region on Jan. 25.

"It opened up a crack in the mountain," she said of the quake, which took the lives of at least 1,230 people. At least 27 Colombians, apart from the victims in Argelia, have died in mudslides and drowning incidents over the last week and thousands have been made homeless as rain-swollen rivers jumped their banks.

© 1999 Reuters Limited.