Visiting the area later on Saturday, President Juan Manuel Santos declared a state of emergency as the military, and emergency workers from the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management, began the heart-rending task of sifting through the mud in search of victims and survivors.
By Saturday afternoon, at least 154 people had been killed and more than three times as many had been injured or were missing, Mr. Santos said, adding that the death toll would certainly rise.
“The entire capacity of the state is deployed to support the search and rescue,” Mr. Santos said on Twitter. In another post, he said, “The tragedy of Mocoa hurts me as president and as a human being. My heartfelt condolences to each family of the victims.”
The Colombian Red Cross said it had deployed 24 people, including psychologists and specialists who help locate missing family members.
A surgeon at a hospital in Mocoa said doctors were overwhelmed and blood supplies were running very low.
Many people were still missing, he said.
“Under the mud, I am sure there are many more,” said the surgeon, Dr. Herman Granados.
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