An avalanche on July 19 in the municipality of Quetame (Cundinamarca) caused at least 14 deaths and 20 missing persons, according to provisional data provided by Nicolás García, Governor of Cundinamarca.
Horror in a few seconds
In just a few seconds, a wave of mud swept through streets, houses, and various people, especially in the El Naranjal village. The scene was horrifying. “Several houses were swept away by the floods. There are an average of 20 people missing, and several injured people are being attended to in different locations,” explained Álvaro Farfán, captain of the fire department.
The landslide was caused by heavy rains in the foothills of Los Llanos, which led to the overflow of four streams. Some surround the municipality, while others run through it, so the flooding quickly affected the inhabited area. All of this happened while many residents were asleep.
In an interview with Caracol Radio, Farfán mentioned the discovery of 6 bodies initially, which later increased to 14. He also mentioned the damage to several houses and a school in the area.
Rescue operations continue
Amidst the stories of misfortune, there are also more comforting news. Governor of Cundinamarca, Nicolás García, reported that “six people have been found alive and have been taken to health centers and hospitals in the region, and to Villavicencio in the Meta department.” García informed that a “state of public calamity” has been declared, a legal resource that allows for the allocation of necessary resources to address the tragedy.
Governor García has provided updates on the progress of rescue operations. The first images from the disaster area are heartbreaking: an entire sector turned into a mudslide, chaos, and the road completely impassable.
National government’s solidarity
Gustavo Petro, President of Colombia, has shown solidarity with the victims of Quetame. Petro also wrote that this incident “demonstrates the urgent need to organize the territory around water and free up its spaces.”
The concessionaire Coviandina has reported on social media about the road closures: “the total closure of the road continues due to the impact in the Naranjal toll area, caused by avalanches and sudden flooding from the stream in the area. The reopening time is unknown; inspection and review are required during daylight,” they wrote on Twitter.
These closures have caused monumental traffic jams in the south exit of Bogotá. Likewise, reaching Quetame from Meta is a real odyssey not only for drivers but also for the Civil Defense personnel.