Landslides in Colombia have resulted in the loss of at least 23 lives near the town of Carmen de Atrato, located in the western Chocó department. The catastrophe occurred on a highway connecting the cities of Quibdó and Medellin. The National Disaster Risk Management Unit of Colombia reported that the mudslide covered a busy municipal road in a mountainous area, leaving destruction in its wake.

President Gustavo Petro has described the event as a “horrible tragedy,” expressing condolences and pledging all available assistance to the affected region. The avalanche also left at least 35 people injured, who have been transported to various hospitals for medical attention.

Search and rescue operations are currently underway to locate and extract individuals who may still be trapped under the debris. Carmen de Atrato’s mayor, Jaime Herrera, has acknowledged the possibility of more people being buried and urged continued efforts to find them.

While the cause of the mudslide remains unspecified by the National Disaster Risk Management Unit, the Defence Department reported heavy rainfall in the area, complicating rescue efforts. A video posted on Twitter captured the terrifying moment of the mudslide, with a section of a mountain sliding onto the highway, covering several vehicles.

Colombia’s W Radio reported that the Colombian Army had deployed trained soldiers to respond to the emergency. President Petro affirmed his commitment to providing all necessary assistance to address the aftermath of the disaster.

According to officials from the governor’s office in Chocó department, people had abandoned their vehicles and sought shelter in a nearby house when the mudslide struck. Unfortunately, the landslide engulfed the area, leading to tragic consequences.

Colombia has a history of being prone to mudslides, with previous incidents claiming lives in recent years. Last year, another event resulted in the loss of at least 14 lives, while a devastating mudslide in 2017 claimed the lives of 200 people.

The latest disaster occurred amid torrential rainfall, affecting multiple areas. Landslides have severed various sections of the road, hampering the arrival of rescue teams. Efforts are being coordinated by multiple agencies, including the local government, police, the Colombian Army, the Red Cross, the Ministry of Health, and the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD).

As the nation grapples with this tragic event, there is a collective call for unity and support to address the immediate needs and challenges posed by the mudslide in the Chocó department.