The heartbreaking stories of the survivors of the Pereira tragedy

Around 6:26 in the morning, a rumble, accompanied by mud, trees and stones robbed the tranquility of the inhabitants of the neighborhoods of La Esneda, in Dosquebradas, and of the inhabitants located on Avenida del Río, in Pereira. So far, this landslide has claimed the lives of 16 people and there are 30 more who are injured, some seriously.

Tragedy in Pereira: how and where to help those affected by the collapse

Families, homes and businesses were destroyed and buried in the rubble. The stories heard amid the rush of relief agencies and the community helping to search for survivors or fatalities are shocking.

The heavy rains began at 5:00 in the afternoon this Monday and lasted for more than 12 hours. The only thing that made its sound remain in the background was the thunder of the rocks that hit the floor and the walls of the houses in the sector, as narrated by María Camila Restrepo, a resident of the sector.

The shocking images of the winter tragedy in Pereira, where a landslide fell on several houses and claimed the lives of 16 people, so far.

“When we least expected the house began to shake and we felt the smack of the rocks, we went out to see what was happening, but we did not expect such a thing. When we saw the river was overflowing, houses were flooded, others on the ground. People began to shout for help and we managed to see how that came and covered other houses,” Restrepo told El Tiempo.

In In front, buried, were the neighbors of all his life. “There was a store and bakery there, behind it was the owner of all that lot who had a garden, also dogs, cats and pisco. Also, a very united family that lost their grandfather, who was just turning 80 today“, added the woman.

My niece was saved because she was awake, but her daughter (her daughter) died, because the wall of the house fell while she was still in bed

“Three uncles, cousins ??and nephews lived in that area. My niece was saved because she was awake, but the girl (her daughter) died, because the The wall of the house fell while she was still in bed. It is very hard that one has to see the family like this”, said one of the neighbors of the place.

This woman also had one of her his uncles, and he has four other relatives in the San Rafael clinic in Pereira.

Other families did not lose one of their members, but they did lose everything they had. That is the case of Pedro Lugo, who lived with his wife and his children in one of the houses on Avenida del Río and Calle 26.

The shocking images of the winter tragedy in Pereira, where a landslide fell on several houses and claimed the lives of 16 people, so far.

From his business, a junkyard, only memories remain. “The collapse took everything where my business was, I was left with nothing, but thank God my family and I are alive,” he narrated.

Firefighters rescuing one of the people buried in the mud and debris.

Lugo said that at 6:30 this morning it was all screaming and desolation. “When we went out to see what happened, people ran everywhere. I approached and managed to rescue several, but later the authorities arrived and we let them do their thing. It was very sad to see that we lost the neighbors of a lifetime” , pointed out the man who has lived in this sector of the Risaraldense capital for more than 50 years.

A few blocks from the scene of the events there is also an abundance of concern and sadness. Two blocks down from the place lives Don José Quintero, who lost several members of his family.

“My son-in-law and brother died and my daughter is in the hospital in a very serious condition. When I went downstairs and saw all that destroyed was very hard. My son-in-law had a little store and my daughter was lying down because they get up very early to make the arepas; she is delicate, but fine,” said Quintero.

For the moment, the authorities continue with search and debris removal tasks and have said that they will take measures to relocate some families that were affected. It should be noted that there were six completely buried homes, four on the Pereira side and two on the Dosquebradas side, however, there are more than 20 homes that were affected.

Another affected is Álvaro Alzate, who returned 24 hours later to the site of the collapse.

As he looks at the place where he lived since he was a child, Alzate remembered the moment when his brother warned him about the avalanche and thanks to this he was able to save himself. He cries as he remembers that his brother went back to get his father out and the two were left under the rubble. Their bodies were found hours later.

For his part, Jesús Restrepo, who is part of one of the 15 families that were evicted, asks the authorities to let him pass to check that the house has not been looted. , but they explain to him that it is impossible because another part of the mountain could break off at any moment.