>> Rescuers in Colombia Monday, searching desperately for survivors after mudslides killed hundreds over the weekend. Reuters' Antonia Auckland visited the scene of the disaster.>> The devastation has been total in the Colombian town of Macoa, where three rivers burst their banks on Friday night, sending a torrent of mud, rocks, and boulders onto a community which was flattened and lost 262 people, according to latest army figures.
Now this death toll is likely to rise further still as many remain missing, and the army works with the local volunteers to lift further bodies out of the river, including children, which have been found over 80 kilometers away. Disaster officials have said that more than 500 people are in emergency housing, that there are not enough mattresses or tents for everybody.
Right now the priority is getting water to the survivors where the aqueduct in the town has been completely destroyed. The government has sent in 20 water tanks, though many people say they still do not have any drinking water or water to cook with. Indeed, getting aid into the town is a real challenge at the moment where the closest airport is three hours away.
And over 80% of the roads in the area have been affected with at least bridges, which have collapsed. Mocoa is a poor town in the southwestern border province of Putumayo, when much of the housing was informal housing built with little regulation around risk areas, such as on slopes and by the river.
There has been criticism of the mayor, who said he was unaware of several alerts that were sent out on Friday night by the national institute which leads in environmental and meteorological matters, with the regards to the heavy rain in the area and rising river levels. There has also been questioning about why the early alert systems and prevention systems which are in place were not enacted to prevent this tragedy from taking place.