ROME, APRIL 5 – In the aftermath of the devastating mudslide that swept through the city of Mocoa in Colombia, the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Angelino Alfano has arranged for immediate help to be provided through Italian Cooperation to the Colombian Red Cross, which is on the front line providing relief to the victims. “The Italian contribution of 300,000 euros will fund relief operations carried out by local volunteers and specialist teams delivered by helicopter from Bogotá”, Alfano explained: “They will carry out search and rescue operations, supply water and medical care and give psychological support to survivors”.
During the pre-dawn hours of 1 April 2017, locally heavy rain triggered flash flooding and landslides in the city of Mocoa, Putumayo, Colombia, killing at least 286 people, injuring more than 400, and leaving 417 others missing. It is the fourth-deadliest weather-related disaster in Colombian history, and is regarded as the worst catastrophe in the history of Mocoa.
“Exceptional” level of rains were not the sole cause of the tragedy, the United Nations weather agency said yesterday, noting that many other factors, such as loss of forest cover, added to the devastation.
“The weather was not the only cause of the tragedy, many other socio-economic factors, including deforestation, came into play,” Clare Nullis, a spokesperson for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), told the media at a regular press briefing at the UN Office at Geneva (UNOG).
March is typically a rainy month in the country, but the quantities of rainfall seen in the past week have been exceptional, she explained, adding that the municipality of Mocoa, hardest-hit by the landslides, saw 129 millimetres of rainfall within 24 hours on 31 March. Of that amount, 80 per cent of the precipitation fell in just three hours, explaining the size of the disaster.