In the early hours of this Tuesday there was a heavy downpour in Pereira that caused a landslide that -at the same time- caused the overflow of the river and buried several homes in the La Esneda neighborhood. At the moment, the deaths of 16 people have been confirmed, including three minors, and there are at least 34 wounded.
The emergency is being attended by firefighters from Dosquebradas and Pereira, who -with the help of dozens of neighbors and residents of the neighborhood- are still looking for the people who would have been buried under the rubble.
The first to arrive in the sector were those from the Fire Department of Dosquebradas, Risaralda, since the area of ??the tragedy is the one that borders Pereira and Dosquebradas. At the time of their arrival, around 8 in the morning, two deaths were confirmed, but the number of deaths increased considerably.
The Mayor’s Office of Dosquebradas confirms that there are already 16 deaths and the number of injured reaches 34.
The rains cause a serious emergency in the city of #Pereira. In the La Esneda neighborhood there are several people buried after a slope broke off and fell on the houses. The Otún River also overflowed its banks. pic.twitter.com/aGdaap2tQI
– Laura Usma Cardona (@Laurau_c) February 8, 2022
Firefighters rescuing one of the people buried in the mud and debris.
“Unfortunately we already have to report 16 people dead, 34 injured and one missing. For safety, we have decided to evacuate the 15 neighboring houses and we ask people not to stay in the place because it is still a risk area,” informed the mayor of Pereira, Carlos Maya.
The president pointed out that about 25 years ago a similar tragedy occurred in the area that suffers flooding of the river in winter.
“The banks of the Otún River have been invaded many times and although we have evicted it so that the families do not live there is a risk, many people return. Now we are focused on recovering the bodies and finding more survivors, and then we’ll think about relocating,” Maya added.
Also, the Dosquebradas firefighters pointed out that the risk of a major disaster in the area continues, since the flow of the river continues to be very high.
“We work in the rescue of people trapped by the landslide and n the sector of La Esneda. Two blocks around the landslide have already been evacuated, as there continues to be a high flow of the Otún River, generating a high risk,” Dosquebradas Firefighters reported.
For its part, the Mayor’s Office of Dosquebradas reported that the injured people have been transferred to the San Jorge Hospital. In addition, there is a person who has not yet been found and at this time the relief agencies are still searching for him.
In terms of material damage, 20 houses have been reported destroyed. It should be noted that La Esneda is not an irregular neighborhood or an invasion, this sector has always been recognized by the local authorities of Pereira.
Civil Defense, Firefighters and the Red Cross attend to the emergency in #Pereira. At this time, they search through the rubble for people trapped by a slope. pic.twitter.com/8C4h8TG4Rl
– Laura Usma Cardona (@Laurau_c) February 8, 2022
The causes of the tragedy that claimed 16 lives in Pereira
According to what was reported by the authorities, a saturation of the land, after more than 12 continuous hours of rain were the cause of the disaster.
“The triggering factor for the emergency was a rupture in the ditch channel which, when it collapsed, generated an accumulation and constant flow of water towards the hillside “, the Pereira mayor’s office officially reported.
The triggering factor for the emergency was a break in the ditch channel which, when it collapsed, generated an accumulation and constant flow of water towards the hillside
“I have given the instruction to move two motorized pumps from La Virginia, which we deliver through the Departmental Coordination of Disaster Risk Management in 2021. Our relief agencies are ready to meet the needs of the place,” added the governor of Risaralda, Víctor Manuel Tamayo.
Due to the large number of injured people, the hospital network declared a yellow alert. One of the hospitals where they have received more patients is the San Jorge hospital, from where a preliminary report was delivered.
“Among the injured, there are two in surgery, one with a diagnosis of pneumothorax and another with limb trauma with cardiovascular risk,” reported the hospital manager María Elena Ruiz.In the sector, 64 homes were evacuated and specialized technicians continue to assess the head of the slope.
Affected explain how the moments of terror were
José Quintero is an older adult, like so many in La Esneda, who is experiencing a family tragedy due to the landslide.
“At dawn my other daughter called me and told me that she knew what had happened and when I went downstairs everything was already destroyed. She died my son-in-law and brother, and my daughter is hospitalized,” Quintero said.
The relatives referred to by this person, who lives on 24th Street, two blocks before the scene of the tragedy, had a store and an arepa shop in the area.
After the tragedy, several affected people told EL TIEMPO that they have been telling the Mayor of Pereira for months that the embankment that was over the neighborhood was deteriorating and there was constantly falling material.<br
Even some inhabitants of the sector captured the drop in small proportions of this material for a month. Those affected pointed out that what happened this February 8 is similar to what happened in 1973, on that occasion about 60 people died.