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20 missing in Colombia mudslide

world Updated: Dec 24, 2010 11:11 IST

IANS
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Twenty people were missing after a mudslide buried several homes in a rural area of the northern Colombian province of Santander, authorities said on Thursday.

The avalanche occurred on Wednesday night in La Ceiba, a hamlet about an hour by road from the town of Rionegro, regional police commander Col. Mario Aurelio Pedroza said.

At least four homes were buried by the torrent of mud and rocks, according to a preliminary report issued in Bucaramanga, the provincial capital.

Residents estimate that a score of their neighbours are missing, said the Santander emergency management office, known by the Spanish acronym Crepad.

The mudslide came after authorities had ordered people in La Ceiba to evacuate and followed the recovery of the bodies of three people missing since an avalanche last week that buried a stretch of the road linking Rionegro with Bucaramanga, Crepad said.

Colombians are suffering this year with the country's worst rains on record, which are blamed for 287 deaths and have displaced more than 2 million people.