By Karol Suarez and Stefano Pozzebon, CNN
At least 11 people have been killed and a dozen injured following a landslide in a mining area in northwest Colombia, authorities reported Thursday.
An “unspecified” number of people remain missing due to the landslide in Abriaquí municipality, which was caused by heavy rains, the risk management agency of Antioquia (Dagran) said.
Most victims are believed to be miners, who were working at an unofficial gold mine that was covered by the landslide in an unpopulated area in Abriaquí, the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management said.
Authorities are moving toward the site to support emergency services and assess possible damage to infrastructure, Dagran said.
“This situation once again fills us with sadness. Last Monday, we emphasized that these events will continue to occur, and we cannot avoid them because they are natural phenomena, but we can avoid loss of life,” Dagran’s director Jaime Gomez said.
“We’re in the rainy season, so people who live or have activities on the banks of rivers mustn’t be near these tributaries. Risk management is an issue of co-responsibility of all Colombians, and it depends on all of us to do what we can to protect life,” said Gomez.
Antioquia Gov. Anibal Gaviria said on Twitter that he will meet with his cabinet and then travel to Abriaquí following what he called a “painful tragedy.”
President Ivan Duque expressed his solidarity with the families of the victims on Thursday, and said relief agencies are engaged in search operations with the disaster agency.
“We make available the necessary help to attend to the victims of this tragedy caused by the heavy rains of the last few hours. We will maintain permanent monitoring of the situation,” Duque tweeted.
Landslides are common in Colombia due to the mountainous terrain, frequent heavy rains and poor or informal construction of houses, Reuters reported.
The rainy season, which began on March 16, has already wreaked havoc on more than 9,000 people across the country, the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management said.
Before that, in early February, 15 people died and 35 were injured in a landslide in the western city of Pereira.
And in 2017, at least 254 people were killed by mudslides in the southern city of Mocoa.
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