Latin America & Caribbean

Colombia mudslide: Thousands attend mass funeral

A mass funeral in Salgar 22 May 2015 Image copyright AFP
Image caption About 5,000 people are estimated to have come to the first funeral in Salgar

A mass funeral has taken place in the Colombian town of Salgar for victims of a devastating mudslide on Monday.

Burials were held for 33 of the 84 people whose bodies have been recovered. Several local people are still missing.

Thousands of people gathered in the square outside the town's main church to pay their respects in front of a long row of coffins.

Rescue workers are still searching the local river for victims.

One resident of Salgar particularly hard hit is the city's cemetery worker who has prepared 15 graves for members of his own family - mostly cousins who died in the flood.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Between 20 and 25 local people are still missing
Image copyright AFP
Image caption It was the worst natural disaster in Colombia since an earthquake in 1999
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Colombian Red Cross is providing psychological support to survivors

A spokesman for the national emergency authorities said he expected to end the search for victims on Thursday or Friday.

He said between 20 and 25 local people caught in the flood had not been accounted for.

Locals and firefighters have been searching a 40km-long (25 mile) stretch of land on the banks of the Liboriana river.

Most of the residents were asleep when the landslide hit at 03:00 local time (08:00 GMT) on Monday.

The landslide was triggered by heavy rains that sent torrents of water and mud crashing into the La Liboriana ravine, causing an overflow that destroyed the neighbourhood below.

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