Severe weather in Colombia causes floods and landslides

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The powerful thunderstorms that belted Bogotá over the weekend will continue for at least another week, and heavy rainfall is expected across much of Colombia until the end of May. According to the country’s hydrology and meteorological agency IDEAM, the rainy season – or “invierno” in Spanish – could continue through June.

In Bogotá, a combination of rain and hail generated traffic chaos along major roads as the fire department attended to local emergencies with basements, parking lots and stores flooded in 14 of the city’s 20 localities. Tree debris in Usaquén and Chapinero also added to mobility gridlock.

The elongated cablecar, TransMiCable, was forced to shut-down for several hours over the weekend due to strong winds and lightning. Almost a month of incessant rain has caused flooding along the causeway of the Río Bogotá from Villa Pinzón in the north to Tequendama Falls.

The swelling of the Bogotá and Sumapaz rivers has also caused the Magdalena River to break its banks in the departments of Tolima, Boyacá, Caldas and Antioquia. In northeastern Antioquia, where the Río Cauca meets the Magdalena, the towns of Puerto Wilches and Caucasia have received disaster relief crews to strengthen river banks while large swathes of agricultural land remain under water.

An estimated 85 towns in Cundinamarca have been affected by the heavy rainfall. On Saturday, an avalanche buried several houses in Viotá, Cundinamarca, killing 3 persons and 2 missing. InArbeláez, four persons are also missing after being swept away by raging floodwaters.

The most recent report by the country’s Disaster Risk Management Unit (UNGDR) states that between March 16 and April 19, 276 weather related events have impacted 166 municipalities in more than half of the country’s 32 departments. The first winter season of the year has – so-far – claimed the lives of 48 persons. And damage to homes and local infrastructure has affected some 6,700 families.