Victims dug through the rubble, searching for their loved ones and trying to save the last remaining possessions on Saturday, after mudslides in the Colombian city of Mocoa, Putumayo Department, killed 254 people and injured hundreds more.
Heavy rains caused several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks onto buildings and roads in the capital of southwestern Putumayo Province and trapping cars in several feet of mud.
The army said in a statement that 254 people were killed, 400 people had been injured and 200 were missing.
More than 1,100 soldiers and police officers were called in to help dig people out in 17 affected neighborhoods.
A list of missing children’s names and ages was compiled and pinned to the walls of a family welfare unit in the town, where distraught family members arrived in shock and desperation.
The director of the National Fire Service, German Andres Miranda, said the first 48 hours would be dedicated to the search and rescue effort, while 10,000 gallons (37,850 liters) of drinking water, ambulances, and medical aid had been transferred to the town.
Even in a country where heavy rains, a mountainous landscape, and informal construction of homes combine to make mud and landslides a common occurrence, the scale of the Mocoa disaster was daunting compared to recent tragedies, like a 2015 landslide that killed nearly 80 people in Salgar, Antioquia.
Colombia’s deadliest landslide, the 1985 Armero disaster, left more than 20,000 dead.