The death toll from a massive landslide in northwestern Colombia has reportedly surpassed 60, with rescue teams still looking for survivors.
Local officials said Tuesday that 61 people died and 37 others sustained injuries in the landslide that hit Colombia’s Antioquia Province early on Monday.
The number of fatalities is expected to rise as an undetermined number are reportedly missing.
The landslide came after heavy rains reportedly caused the Liboriana river in the municipality of Salgar to burst its ranks.
Salgar Mayor Olga Osorio told Colombia’s RCN Radio that the rush of mud and water “tore down everything in its path.”
She said that the small town of Santa Margarita, southwest of the provincial capital, Medellin, was practically “wiped off the map.”
The Colombian air force and police have sent helicopters as well as rescue experts and sniffer dogs to the area.
Some 100 people have also been evacuated from high-risk areas.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has declared a state of emergency and promised to rebuild the houses.
“No one can bring the deceased back to you, that is something we deeply regret. But we have to get through this disaster and look to the future with bravery and strength,” he said after visiting the scene of the disaster.
He went on to say that several children were orphaned and are being cared for by the Colombian Institute for Family Wellbeing.
Hundreds of people were killed and thousands were displaced in the last series of landslides and floods which hit Colombia in 2011 and 2012.