Latin America reeling after deadly rains

2010-12-10 10:35
A cross of a tomb is partially visible after heavy rains flooded the town of El Llano in Panama. (Arnulfo Franco, AP)

A cross of a tomb is partially visible after heavy rains flooded the town of El Llano in Panama. (Arnulfo Franco, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

  • Venezuela
    This book explores the state of Venezuelan politics and relations with the United States. Now R1,827.00
    buy now
Panama City - The heaviest rains in at least a decade have left hundreds dead in Colombia, Venezuela and Panama, caused millions of dollars in damages and forced a rare 17-hour closure of the Panama Canal, officials said.

Rescuers said on Thursday they have recovered 55 bodies out of 121 believed to be buried alive in a massive weekend mudslide in northwestern Colombia. The Antioquia department governor's spokesperson Jorge Salazar said 23 of the victims were children.

Many of the children had participated in celebrations for their first communion near Colombia's second-largest city of Medellin.

The yearly rainy season has been exacerbated by a La Nina weather phenomenon, in which cooler-than-normal water circulates in the Pacific Ocean around the equator.

In Venezuela to the east, driving rains began receding after causing floods and cave-ins that have killed at least 35 people over the past week and left 124 000 homeless. Another six people are still missing.

Earlier in the season, La Nina's deadly havoc killed some 263 people in Guatemala and over 130 in Mexico.

Hundreds of rescue workers in Colombia battled a narrowing time window to find people still alive under the mud, combing through the mess with sniffer dogs and heavy machinery to search for the remaining 66 missing. Authorities had initially estimated that up to 200 people were caught in the avalanche.

Weather prompts truce

So far this year, the rains in Colombia have left 206 people dead, while 119 remain missing and 1.7 million were affected. Over 2 000 homes were destroyed and 275 000 were damaged, according to the latest official figures.

The leftist National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group proposed a truce with President Juan Manuel Santos's government so that disaster response work could proceed unhindered.

In neighbouring Panama, recent floods from heavy rains have collapsed bridges, destroyed homes, cut off several communities and caused disruptions to electrical and water supply.

Authorities updated the toll to 10 from the downpours that left 4 000 people homeless.

"We will declare a state of national emergency and we will begin to bring aid and assistance to all populations that have had problems," President Ricardo Martinelli told reporters.

"These are the fiercest rains in Panamanian history since records began. Some people say it has not rained so much in the past 5 000 years."

The Panama Canal reopened earlier on Thursday after a suspension due to heavy rains that swelled nearby lakes flowing into the key transport route, which handles 5% of global trade.

It was the first time the entire canal was closed since the 1989 US invasion of the Central American nation.

The 80km man-made artery links the Atlantic to the Pacific, with around 40 ships passing through the canal each day.

Read more on:    juan manuel santos  |  colombia  |  venezuela  |  panama  |  weather  |  natural disasters

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


6 life hacks you simply have to know

A few simple tricks can make your life so much easier!


For chic geeks...

Device lets disabled people talk through their nose
It’s THIS easy for someone to steal your ATM pin!
This is why you should install iOS 8
17 photo illusions that look so real

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now! - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


It may feel like you are treading water and going nowhere fast. You may want to get off the merry go round. By pushing more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.