A grim search for the missing resumed at dawn Sunday in southern Colombia after surging rivers sent an avalanche of floodwaters, mud, and debris through Mocoa, killing at least 200 people. People pried through piles of rocks and wooden planks that entombed homes. Streets were covered in thick sand, mud, and tree limbs from the rivers and rainforest that surround the city. There was little drinking water and no power, which forced authorities to suspend the rescue effort during the night. The National Disaster Agency said Sunday that the death toll was at 200, with another 200 injured, but authorities conceded it could easily go higher because many people were still unaccounted for and dozens were airlifted to hospitals in other cities in critical condition. Bodies were placed in a temporary morgue where three teams of medical examiners were working around the clock to identify remains.
"There was no time for anything," said one survivor of his escape, per the AP. When he returned to the site of his home, nothing remained. "Thank God we have our lives." President Juan Manuel Santos declared Mocoa a disaster zone Saturday, blaming climate change for the avalanche, saying that the accumulated rainfall in one night was almost half what Mocoa normally receives in the entire month of March. With the rainy season in much of Colombia just beginning, he said local and national authorities need to redouble their efforts to prevent a similar tragedy. The crisis is likely to be remembered as one of the worst natural disasters in recent Colombian history. "There were bodies all over," said one survivor who searched frantically for his in-laws before finding them camped with other survivors. "To know they were alive," he said, "it was a reunion of tears." Mashable has more footage here. (Read more Colombia stories.)