More than 250 dead after landslide in Colombia

Hundreds more are missing or injured after what has been described as a 'water avalanche' in the city of Mocoa

More than 250 dead after landslide in Colombia

Residents clean debris after a landslide in Mocoa, capital city of Putumayo department, Colombia. Picture by: Xinhua/SIPA USA/PA Images

At least 254 people have died and hundreds more are injured after what's being described as a "water avalanche" in Colombia.

The floods hits the city of Mocoa in the south of the country, with 30% of average monthly rain having fallen in a single night.

Late on Friday (local time), torrential rain sent mud and water from three rivers flowing through the streets, destroying homes and ripping trees from their roots.

The country's president Juan Manuel Santos has declared a state of emergency following the landslides, and a major aid programme is getting underway.

One man explained how he has lost several loved ones, and 'doesn't have any words' to describe the scale of the destruction.

Soldiers rescue a landslide victim in Mocoa. Picture by: Xinhua/SIPA USA/PA Images

The Red Cross is responding to the disaster, saying their initial 47-person team "includes specialised personnel in health, search and rescue, water and sanitation, corpse management, psychosocial support, restoring family links, damage and needs assessment, and telecommunications".

In a statement yesterday, a spokesperson for President Higgins said: "President Michael D Higgins has written to the President of the Republic of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, to express his sympathies to the victims of the landslides in the Putumayo region, to their families and to all those affected by the tragedy." 

Almost 350,000 people live in Mocoa, which sits near Colombia's border with Ecuador.