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| 5/10/2011 11:00:00 AM

La Niña and global warming blamed as torrential rains swamp Colombia

May 10--Hundreds die and thousands are made homeless as record-level rainfall and floods affect three-quarters of the country.

It has never rained so much in Colombia. "Over the past 10 months we have registered five or six times more rainfall than usual," says weather specialist Ricardo Lozano. Torrential rain and flooding have affected more than three-quarters of the country. The most recent Red Cross bulletin reports 425 fatalities and 3 million disaster victims.

With 12,000 homes destroyed and 356,000 damaged, thousands of people have had to move out, taking refuge in temporary shelters. More than 1m hectares of land are underwater. "But the disaster prevention system worked," Lozano adds, saving between 5,000 and 10,000 lives.

Colombia is known for its heavy rain and apparent lack of seasons, but this year the downpour has been almost continuous. The mountains are sodden, so runoff flows down the slopes to fill rivers, which flood the plains and coastal areas. Mudslides have damaged the precarious road system. At 2,500 metres above sea level even the vast Sabana plain, on which the capital Bogotá is built, is partly flooded. Food prices are going up and the drainage system is completely saturated, with the risk of a dengue epidemic.
 
Read more here.

Semana International delivers news about Colombia in English. Find more in our home.

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