Search for bus passengers buried in mudslide

A landslide on a road in the province of Risaralda in western Colombia has killed at least three people and buried dozens more.

A bus full of passengers was among several vehicles buried under mud and rocks, which tumbled down a hillside following heavy rains.

One of the passengers helped his wife and two children escape from the bus before he died and was buried. Rescuers are using heavy machinery to try to dislodge the mud. The landslide happened in the early hours of Sunday morning local time on the road leading to the northern province of Chocó.

Witnesses said an intercity bus, a jeep, and a motorbike had stopped on the road because of a car accident further ahead when part of the hillside collapsed on top of them.

The bus is thought to have had two drivers and 25 passengers on board. Colombian President Gustavo Petro wrote on Twitter that nine people had been rescued and more than 20 were still missing.

So far, three people have been confirmed dead in the landslide, among them was a young girl who was thought to have been riding on the motorbike with another person. One of those who died inside the bus was identified as Guillermo Ibargüen. His son Andrés told Caracol News that “dad helped me get out of the bus through a little hole”.

“I had to throw myself down the ravine. When I jumped, the mud had covered everything,” he said. Ibargüen also helped his wife and his daughter escape the bus in time.

By Sunday evening local time, rescuers had uncovered one side of the bus, but the remainder of the vehicle remained buried. Residents rushed to the scene to help dig for survivors with spades or their bare hands.

Police warned that the diggers must be careful to avoid dislodging the bus because it could slide down the hill. Landslides are not uncommon in Colombia, especially in the rainy season, and mountain roads are often cut off by mud and rocks. A landslide on a motorway in southern Brazil has killed at least two people and left dozens missing. -BBC

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