MEDELLIN, Colombia – The death toll in a landslide that buried a stretch of northwestern Colombian highway has risen to six, authorities said Wednesday.
“The initial report that we have of this emergency mentions six fatalities,” said the head of the disaster prevention and recovery administration, Mauricio Parodi, of the landslide in El Cabuyal sector that buried part of the Medellin-Bogota highway.
He said that the landslide apparently was caused by an explosion in a quarry in the municipality of Copacabana, which injured four people and possibly trapped as many as 10 people.
He also said that the missing people could be inside a container in the quarry.
The landslide buried the four lanes of the highway along a 200-meter (650-foot) stretch and came up to the doors of two homes near the road.
Parodi estimated that some 50,000 cubic meters (more than 500,000 cubic feet) of hillside cascaded down onto the road, adding that some witnesses said that they had seen two motorcycles, a truck and two other small vehicles buried.”
Meanwhile, an official with Devimed, which administers the Medellin-Bogota highway, German Velez Villegas, told reporters that “at least 12 people” are trapped or buried, including six quarry workers and six motorists, adding that it would be “difficult” to find survivors under the debris and earth.
Emergency crews, including firefighters, Red Cross, Civil Defense, National Police, and army and air force personnel are at the scene carrying out rescue and recovery efforts.