48 people confirmed dead in Colombian landslide

Updated: 2015-05-19 08:46


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BOGOTA - Forty-eight people were killed in a landslide triggered by heavy rains in Colombia, said the country's disaster response service Monday.

The landslide took place inside the municipality of Salgar, department of Antioquia, northwest Colombia, in the early hours of Monday after heavy rains, which lasted all night, causing a nearby river to burst it's banks, said Zulma Osorio, the Salgar Government Secretary.

"An extremely large landslide almost completely destroyed the small town of La Margarita. We have many families that have completely disappeared and many people are injured. We need lots of help from the Civil Defense, firefighters and armed forces because it is a large-scale tragedy," said Osorio.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said that he would soon travel to Salgar in the Antioquia department to inspect the damage and console residents there.

"We are attending to the emergency in Salgar, Antioquia. the National Unit for Disaster Management (UNGRD) is in charge of the situation. The people affected will receive all our support," wrote the president on his Twitter account.

Rescuers were still working hard to look for the missing people.

Apart from the 48 bodies found, which included a baby, there were 20 injured people who have been transported to various local hospitals.

The National Police of the country said they had already sent a group of 40 rescue workers to the region and there are two police helicopters ready to transport victims and the seriously injured.

The national government sent a mission led by the director of the UNGRD, Carlos Ivan Marquez, to Salgar to coordinate the search and rescue operation there, said authorities.

Work to identify the 48 bodies is underway, said Marquez, who declined to give an exact figure of casualties, warning the death toll could still increase and explaining until they find more bodies, it is difficult to give further information.