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Rescue work ends in mudslide-hit Colombia, 48 dead


13:23, November 10, 2011

BOGOTA, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) -- The rescue work for victims of the massive mudslide in Colombia's central city Manizales has ended, with 48 people dead and 12 rescued, local authorities said Wednesday.

Manizales Firefighter Lieutenant Jorge Ivan Quintero said the rescue work was terminated after the last four people who were earlier reported missing contacted their families from outside the city.

"The bodies of 48 dead were recovered, of which 25 were women and 23 were men. We believe that all the people who were reported as missing were rescued or their bodies recovered," Quintero said.

The Colombian General Attorney's office launched an investigation Tuesday to find out whether someone was to be held partially responsible for the mudslide in a populous neighborhood in Manizales.

Carlos Ivan Marquez, risk management director of the Interior Ministry, said that since the end of October, the highest-level alert has been declared in several areas of Manizales. Marquez said they were checking whether the evacuation procedures had been fulfilled.

Manizales' Mayor Juan Manuel Llanos said the emergency units were on the alert for a contingency, but admitted that the highest-level alert had not been issued for the neighborhood where the mudslide happened.

By August, a total of 159 people died in similar accidents caused by rains this year, a report from the International Red Cross in Colombia said.

Colombia has suffered one of its worst rainy seasons in decades, with some 70 people killed and tens of thousands forced to leave their homes.

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