Colombia – Deadly Landslides in Caldas, Thousands Affected by Floods in La Guajira

At least 12 people have died after heavy rain triggered landslides in Colombia’s Caldas Department. Meanwhile in La Guajira Department in the far north of the country over 60,000 people have been affected by flooding since early October.

Landslides Marquetalia Municipality, Caldas Department, October 2018. Photo: Caldas Department Disatser Management

Landslide in Caldas Department

On 11 October 2018, the Colombia National Disaster Risk Management Unit (UNGRD) reported heavy rain had triggered landslides in the Los Andes neighborhood of the municipality of Marquetalia in Caldas Department.

At least 12 deaths have since been reported. Four people were injured and 28 rescued. Four homes damaged and 2 destroyed in the landslides.

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Flooding in La Guajira Department

Over 60,000 people have been affected by flooding since early October in La Guajira Department, according to a report by United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA).

The La Guajira Regional Government has declared a state of emergency and President Ivan Duque visited the affected area on Saturday 13 October.

According to a report by UNOCHA, four districts have been affected, with Uribia by far the worst hit. As of 12 October, as many as 63,485 people had been affected by the floods in Uribia, with 635 affected in Riohacha, 395 in Fonseca and 50 in Albania.

In Uribia, the municipalities of Nazareth, Siapana, Puerto Estrella, Castilletes, Punta Gallinas and Flor del Paraíso ar the worst affected. Roads have been blocked and some communities cut off. Schools in Siapana have been closed.

La Guajira’s Departmental Council for Disaster Risk Management said that rain is forecast until the last week of November, or early December, as the rainy season comes to a close.

Rivers

According to figures from Colombia’s Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM), the Rancheria river in San Francisco, Barrancas district, La Guajira, jumped from around 2.2 metres to 4.33 metres in the space of a few hours on 12 October, 2018. Red alert (highest) level is 4 metres. The river dropped back to a normal level of 2.16 metres by 13 October, but further heavy rain caused the river to rise again on 15 October, this time to 2.97 metres, just under yellow level alerts (3 metres).

The Cesar River at Corral De Piedra, San Juan Del Cesar district, jumped from around 0.5 metes to 3.48 metres late on 11 October (danger level is 3.25m) but was back to normal levels the next day.

Readings for the Rancheria river in Riochada were unavailable.

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