BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombian President Ivan Duque on Sunday visited areas affected by landslides due to torrential rains, which left three dead and forced the evacuation of hundreds of people.
The most serious incident was reported at dawn on Saturday along a road connecting the municipalities of Dabeiba and Uramita in the Antioquia province, where a landslide buried houses and vehicles and destroyed part of the thoroughfare.
Three people were killed in the incident, according to the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD), and 16 were missing. Hundreds of people were evacuated by helicopter.
“We’re going to visit several of the sites affected by the winter weather, mobilizing aid that we have to send as soon as possible,” Duque said before setting off to the emergency zones.
“We have to work together as a country to address this situation and take precautions,” he added.
According to weather forecasts, heavy rains will occur across Colombia over the next 30 days, Duque said, in part due to the weather phenomenon known as La Niña, while the north of the country will be affected by the Caribbean storm and hurricane season.
Landslides are common in mountainous Colombia, especially during the rainy season and in areas where precarious informal housing and narrow roadways are constructed on deforested Andean hillsides.
Flooding has occurred in 11 municipalities of Colombia’s Choco province, as well as in the province of Atlantico, and Caribbean city Cartagena, the UNGRD added. Duque said he would visit Cartagena later in the day.
(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Additional reporting and writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Leslie Adler)