273 confirmed landslide deaths as the search continues for lost friends and family

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

28 PHOTOS
Search continues for landslide victims in Columbia
See Gallery
Search continues for landslide victims in Columbia
A rescuer looks for bodies in a destroyed area after flooding and mudslides, caused by heavy rains leading several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks into buildings and roads, in Mocoa, Colombia April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga
Rescuers look for bodies in a destroyed area after flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rains leading several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks into buildings and roads, in Mocoa, Colombia April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga
A woman walks with her daughter in a shelter for people who became homeless after flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rains leading several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks into buildings and roads in Mocoa, Colombia, April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga
People walk in a destroyed area after flooding and mudslides, caused by heavy rains leading several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks into buildings and roads, in Mocoa, Colombia April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga
Aerial view of a neighborhood destroyed after flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rains leading several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks into buildings and roads, in Mocoa, Colombia April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Rescue members look for bodies in a house after flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rains leading several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks into buildings and roads, in Mocoa, Colombia April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga
Aerial view of a neighborhood destroyed after flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rains leading several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks into buildings and roads, in Mocoa, Colombia April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATHRescue members recover a body in a house after flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rains leading several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks into buildings and roads, in Mocoa, Colombia April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga
People remove debris from a destroyed street after flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rains leading several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks into buildings and roads, in Mocoa, Colombia April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga
Rescue members recover a body in a house after flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rains leading several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks into buildings and roads, in Mocoa, Colombia April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Aerial view of the mountain where the landslide originated after flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rains leading several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks into buildings and roads, in Mocoa, Colombia April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
New coffins for reburials, are seen in a cemetery after flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rains leading several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks into buildings and roads, in Mocoa, Colombia April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Rescuers recover a body of the river after flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rains leading several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks into buildings and roads, in Mocoa, Colombia April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga
Aerial view of a neighborhood destroyed after flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rains leading several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks into buildings and roads, in Mocoa, Colombia April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga
Aerial view of a neighborhood destroyed after flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rains leading several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks into buildings and roads, in Mocoa, Colombia April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga
A woman cries next to a grave in the cemetery after flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rains led to several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks into buildings and roads, in Mocoa, Colombia April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga
Women cry next to a coffin in the cemetery after flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rains leading several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks into buildings and roads, in Mocoa, Colombia, April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga
A man walks on a street destroyed after flooding and mudslides, caused by heavy rains leading several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks into buildings and roads, in Mocoa, Colombia April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People walk in a destroyed area after flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rains in Mocoa, Colombia April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A woman is seen on a destroyed street after flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rains in Mocoa, Colombia April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga
People wait to identify the bodies of their relatives at a cemetery after flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rains in Mocoa, Colombia April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga
A woman cries as she identifies her daughter's body after flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rains in Villagarzon, Colombia April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga
People walk on a street destroyed after flooding and mudslides, caused by heavy rains leading several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks into buildings and roads, in Mocoa, Colombia April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People recover their belongings after flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rains, leading several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks into buildings and roads, in Mocoa, Colombia April 2, 2017. Picture taken April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga
A dog is seen on a street destroyed after flooding and mudslides caused by heavy rains leading several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks into buildings and roads in Mocoa, Colombia April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga
A man walks among the ruins after flooding and mudslides, caused by heavy rains leading several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks into buildings and roads, in Mocoa, Colombia April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga
Men look at a destroyed area afterwards heavy rains caused several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks into buildings and roads in Mocoa, Colombia April 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

MOCOA, Colombia (Reuters) - Scores of decomposing cadavers were being released for burial on Monday as rescuers continued to search for victims of weekend flooding and landslides that devastated a city in southern Colombia, killing at least 273 people.

Desperate families queued for blocks in the heat to search a morgue for loved ones who died when several rivers burst their banks in the early hours of Saturday, sending water, mud and debris crashing down streets and into houses as people slept.

Bodies wrapped in white sheets lay on the concrete floor of the morgue as officials sought to bury them as soon as possible to avoid the spread of disease. The government has begun vaccination against infection.

"Please speed up delivery of the bodies because they are decomposing," said Yadira Andrea Munoz, a 45-year-old housewife who expected to receive the remains of two relatives who died in the tragedy.

But officials asked for families to be patient.

"We don't want bodies to be delivered wrongly," said Carlos Eduardo Valdes, head of the forensic science institute.

The death toll has ticked up during the day as rescuers searched with dogs and machinery in the mud-choked rubble.

Many families in Mocoa have spent days and nights digging through the debris with their hands despite a lack of food, clean water and electricity.

President Juan Manuel Santos, who made a third visit to the area on Monday, blamed climate change for the disaster, saying Mocoa had received one-third of its usual monthly rain in just one night, causing the rivers to burst their banks.

Others said deforestation in surrounding mountains meant there were few trees to prevent water washing down bare slopes.

More than 500 people were staying in emergency housing and social services had helped 10 lost children find their parents. As many as 43 children were killed.

Families of the dead will receive about $6,400 in aid and the government will cover hospital and funeral costs.

Even in a country where heavy rains, a mountainous landscape and informal construction combine to make landslides a common occurrence, the scale of the Mocoa disaster was daunting compared with recent tragedies, including a 2015 landslide that killed nearly 100 people.

Colombia's deadliest landslide, the 1985 Armero disaster, killed more than 20,000 people.

Santos urged Colombians to take precautions against flooding and continued rains.

Flooding in Peru last month killed more than 100 people and destroyed infrastructure.

(Reporting by Andres Rojas, Helen Murphy Luis Jaime Acosta and Jaime Saldarriaga; Editing by James Dalgleish and Lisa Shumaker)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners

Man Suspects His Wife Is Cheating On Him - Then His Daughter Reveals What's Really Going Man Suspects His Wife Is Cheating On Him - Then His Daughter Reveals What's Really Going
Don't Get Too Close To a Newborn Giraffe Unless You Want to Get Kicked in the Nuts Don't Get Too Close To a Newborn Giraffe Unless You Want to Get Kicked in the Nuts
Rescuer Sees Bumps All Over This Dog's Skin - Then X-Rays Reveal The Tragic Story Rescuer Sees Bumps All Over This Dog's Skin - Then X-Rays Reveal The Tragic Story