Bello: Rescue workers recovered 23 bodies but said more than 100 people remained missing and feared dead Monday following a landslide that buried a poor Medellin suburb amid Colombia`s heaviest rains in decades.
The rains that triggered Sunday`s landslide in the suburb of Bello have also driven thousands from their homes, damaged coffee and flower crops and snarled the two-lane highways that are mountainous Colombia`s commercial backbone.
"Among the 23 bodies recovered are 11 children," said John Rendon, disaster coordinator for Antioquia state, where Bello is located. Local authorities said nine of the children were playing in a park when the landslide struck.
Claudia Patricia Molina, 37, lost her home when the hillside came crashing down with a roar that sounded "as if someone had placed a bomb." She was about four blocks away, visiting friends, when the slide struck.
"It shook powerfully and when we looked over we saw rocks falling," she said. A couple who lived next to Molina were buried alive with their 2-year-old daughter, she added.
Thirty brick homes were buried by at least 1.7 million cubic feet (50,000 cubic meters) of earth, Rendon said.
"The weather was good yesterday, and also today, but the soil is saturated and it gave," he told The Associated Press.
Interior Minister German Vargas told reporters that more than 100 people were missing as of Monday.
That brought the death toll from floods and mudslides generated by this year`s rainfall to 199, said the director of Colombia`s national disaster management office, Luz Amanda Pulido. Last year, 110 people died in rainfall-related calamities, while 48 were killed in 2008, Colombian Red Cross director of national relief operations Carlos Ivan Marquez told the AP recently.