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Colombian landslide kills 13

world Updated: Dec 26, 2010 11:28 IST

A landslide in rain-drenched southeastern Colombia smashed into five homes and a bar in a town near the Ecuador border, killing at least 13 people, the local mayor said.

"The latest report given to me says 13 dead and 27 injured taken to hospital, with three people presumed missing," La Cruz township mayor Alexander Realpe told reporters by telephone on Thursday.

He said that rescue crews were busy sifting through mud and debris in the village of San Gerardo. The landslide covered a wide area, burying five homes and a bar where a party was taking place, he said.

Earlier, Narino department governor Antonio Navarra reported 11 people killed by the landslide.

Navarra also told RCN radio that the mayor had reported the landslide had forced some 400 families in the area to evacuate their homes. The governor expressed concern that the toll could rise, and said emergency crews "were digging through the soil to try to reach more victims."

Mayor Realpe said that the landslide occurred in part because residents were taking sand from the mountainsides above the town, allowing the waterlogged earth to more easily give way.

Thursday's tragedy was the second major deadly landslide so far this month in Colombia, which is enduring its rainiest season in 40 years. On December 5, close to 100 people were killed when a landslide buried a neighborhood outside Medellin.

The heavy rains in 2010, triggered by the La Nina weather phenomenon, have killed about 300 people so far with more than 60 still reported missing. In all, flooding and landslides have affected some two million people.