MEDELLIN, Colombia – Colombian authorities issued on Tuesday a red alert in four towns in the northwest of the country which will be evacuated after a new earth movement was detected on the slope of one of the mountains that borders the Ituango hydroelectric dam, which is under construction.
The National Unit for Disaster Risk Management (UNGRD) said in a statement that in the face of recent landslides and the evolution of other present phenomena which were still not totally assessed, a preventive evacuation protocol will be carried out for the four towns located in the Antioquia department, Puerto Valdivia, Puerto Antioquia, Caceres and Taraza.
The emergency situation near the Ituango hydropower plant started on May 7 at dawn when a landslide hit the area near the plant, causing “a total blockage in the tunnel” which diverts the Cauca River, the second longest river in Colombia, during the construction process.
A new landslide hit the area on May 26, forcing workers in the plant to evacuate.
According to Jorge Londoño, general manager of the Empresas Publicas de Medellin (EPM), a company responsible for the Ituango hydroelectric project, ground radars detected a new land movement in the last hours.
This new land movement adds to the landslides that have occurred since May 26, which have not directly affected the infrastructure of the project or harmed any of its workers.
The assessments made by surveyors and engineers did not register any “macro” landslides, but they did detect some cracks in trees and other plants, suggesting that more landslides could emerge in the next hours or days.