16 tons of humanitarian aid airlifted to area
BOGOTA -- The toll from the eruption of the Nevado del Huila volcano so far is six people dead and six others missing, along with 68 homes destroyed and damaged and an undetermined number of local residents rendered incommunicado, authorities said Monday.
Interior and Justice Minister Fabio Valencia on Sunday had reported that 10 people were dead in the eruption, but that figure was downgraded on Monday.
The head of the DPAD disaster-response agency, Luz Amanda Pulido, said that four of the fatalities were children.
In a preliminary report on the disaster provided to the press, Pulido said that the eruption destroyed 20 houses, damaged another 48 and will require the resettlement of 157 additional families whose homes evidently are in the danger zone.
At least six bridges and several stretches of intercity roadway were also destroyed, the DPAD chief said.
Most of the homes and infrastructure affected are located in Balalcazar, a town in Cauca province and the area most affected by the avalanche that occurred after the eruption, which caused snow and ice on the mountain to melt and cascade down the hillside.
The avalanche followed the bed of El Salado creek, which is a tributary of the Paez River, on the bank of which sits Belalcazar, whose 3,200 residents are presently cut off from communicating with the outside world.
The residents of nearby rural areas are also incommunicado, and the Colombian air force has had to evacuate 506 people whose communications and electric lines were cut by the avalanche.
The air force also has transported to the affected communities more than 16 tons of humanitarian aid, including 10 portable power generators. EFE