Mocoa (Colombia): At least 254 people have been killed and hundreds more are missing after torrential rains triggered severe flooding and mudslides in the city of Mocoa, in Southwest Colombia, according to a statement released by the army.
Images of the town of Mocoa showed houses, bridges, vehicles and trees swept away, leaving piles of wrecked timber and brown mud.
Governor Sorrel Aroca of the Putumayo department described the catastrophe as "an unprecedented tragedy," saying that "hundreds of families have not yet been found and whole neighborhoods missing."
Heavy overnight rainfall caused several rivers to overflow their banks, sending mud and debris crashing onto houses as people slept and sweeping away vehicles and trees.
Many of the victims did not have enough time to climb on top of their roofs, or seek refuge on higher ground.
"We've declared an emergency in the area so we can help people as best we can," Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos, who flew to Mocoa on Saturday to oversee rescue efforts, said.
He added that 30 percent of monthly rain fell in just one night.
"All of our hearts are with the victims of this tragedy."
An estimated 220 people were still missing, while another 400 were injured, according to the Red Cross.
With no electricity to light Mocoa, authorities were forced to suspend the search for the night.
Meanwhile, President Juan Manuel Santos declared a state of emergency and ordered rescue crews and the military to respond to the disaster in the town of Mocoa, where he arrived to "guarantee attention to the victims."
Upon arriving in Mocoa on Saturday, Santos said the death toll could rise. The town of 40,000 people was also left without water and electricity.