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Last Updated: Friday, 14 April 2006, 21:40 GMT 22:40 UK
'Dozens missing' in Colombia mud
Woman wades through the mud
Hundreds of people have been forced to flee rising waters
Up to 50 people are feared to have died in mudslides triggered by heavy rain in south-western Colombia.

Eleven bodies have been recovered, but officials say 40 people remain missing despite extensive searches in the Buenaventura area.

Rescuers have been hampered by heavy rains, new mudslides and attacks by some of Colombia's armed factions.

Rivers of mud have swept away homes and parts of the main road to the Pacific coast, leaving the area cut off.

President Alvaro Uribe has travelled there to meet relief workers.

Hundreds homeless

Some 1,200 tourists stranded in the south-west have been taken to safety, the AFP news agency reports.

Map
Diego Palacio, a Colombian government minister, said attempts to find those missing in the mud had come to nothing.

"After hours and in spite of their efforts, aid teams have not been able to rescue the more than 40 people who are missing," he told AFP.

The heavy rains started on Tuesday night and led to several rivers bursting their banks early on Wednesday.

A journalist covering the disaster was swept away by a new landslide on Thursday and is still missing. His cameraman was rescued from the mud suffering from serious injuries.

Eight soldiers who were manning a checkpoint are also missing.

Hundreds of people have been left homeless, or have been forced to flee the rising waters, officials say.

Clashes

The village of Bendiciones, which is about 350km (220 miles) south-west of the capital Bogota, is reported to have been completely destroyed by landslides.

Soldiers arrive at the disaster area
Soldiers say they have come under attack from rebels
Rescue workers, aided by the military, were working "intensely in the search for bodies", local official Orlando Riascos said.

The authorities say the emergency workers have come under repeated attack by rebel fighters, said to be from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc).

Governor Angelino Garzon has repeated his call for an Easter ceasefire so that rescue teams can do their work.

More than 40 people have been killed and thousands left homeless by floods and mudslides in this year's wet season, which has also seen thousands of hectares of crops destroyed.

The rainy season began in March and is forecast to continue until June.




SEE ALSO:
Colombia scouts die in mudslide
20 Mar 06 |  Americas
Country profile: Colombia
10 Feb 06 |  Country profiles


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