100’s Killed In Colombia Floods

In Americas, Floods & Storms, News Headlines

The unusually heavy rain that has pounded Colombia this year killed 284 people in related accidents, officials said, as navy sailors helped evacuate people from a flooded town.

Colombia has suffered the heaviest rain in decades due to the La Nina weather phenomenon, which causes water temperature in the Pacific Ocean to drop. Strong winds and heavy rain struck a large swath of the Americas.

More than 2 million people have been affected by flooding, overflowing rivers and landslides this year, the interior ministry said. Another 62 people have also been reported missing.

North, north-eastern and western Colombia have been hardest-hit, officials said.

On Tuesday sailors finished evacuating 2,000 people from the town of Soplaviento in the northern Colombian department of Bolivar.

In recent weeks overflowing rivers forced entire towns to empty, as in the case of the eastern town of Gramalote in the North Santander department.

Residents were forced to flee when the rain produced sinkholes large enough to swallow whole buildings.

The British charity Oxfam said it was increasing its aid to Colombia and has called for increased donations.

“These are the worst floods to hit Colombia in 60 years,” said Guillermo Toro, the Oxfam program manager in Colombia.

“They are destroying thousands of homes and crops, roads and public buildings in areas of the country that were already desperately poor.

“There is an urgent need for clean drinking water and toilets to avert a public health catastrophe, as well as basic food items and temporary shelter for those who have lost their homes.”

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