May 19, 2015 / 6:57 PM / 4 years ago

Colombia rescuers search for landslide victims, over 60 dead

SALGAR, Colombia (Reuters) - Colombian rescuers on Tuesday continued searching for victims of a landslide that sent torrents of water and mud crashing onto a neighbourhood in the town of Salgar, killing more than 60 people and injuring dozens in the worst disaster of its kind for a decade.

Rescue efforts using search dogs resumed at dawn after being suspended overnight to find a still unknown number of people missing since the landslide in the early hours of Monday morning.

The national disaster unit said in a statement that 64 were killed and at least 40 others had been treated for injuries. The homes of more than 500 people were destroyed or damaged.

Heavy rains caused a landslide into the La Liboriana ravie, blocking it off and causing an overflow which destroyed the neighbourhood below, the country’s worst landslide since 2005.

“It took my sister and my nephews and we haven’t been able to find them,” said Blanca Moreno, 50, standing near an improvised morgue set up in the local cemetery for the identification of victims.

“That’s why we’re here, to see what information we can get, to see if they’ve been found.”

Authorities in Salgar, nestled inside steep Andean slopes in a coffee-growing region in Antioquia department, northwest of the capital, Bogota, have partially restored electricity and water services. Some 18,000 people had been without drinking water, the United Nations said.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos visited the affected area on Monday and declared a public emergency, freeing up relief funds for victims.

Reporting by Herbert Villarraga and Luis Jaime Acosta; writing by Julia Symmes Cobb, editing by G Crosse

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