254 dead, including 62 minors, more than 400 wounded and just as many lost. These are the dramatic numbers from the strong floods that have caused a veritable catastrophe in the city of Mocoa, 500 kilometres south of Bogotà in south Colombia. The president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, visited the site of the disaster, which was reduced to a mud heap, and said that the number of the missing is not yet known.
The army is working around the clock searching for survivors and delivering humanitarian aid. A state of emergency has been declared in the entire region of the disaster, in order to hasten the recovery of victims.
“It is difficult to describe not only the gravity of what took place, but also what the people are going through, including those of our own community in that region,” writes Alejandra from the focolare in Bogotà. “Seventeen quarters have been destroyed in the city of Mocoa with its 36,000 inhabitants. The train station has been fenced off.
We tried to regain contact with each person, but the situation is bad for everyone. In the zone that is already burdened by poverty and the guerilla, there are many priests from the Movement. Don Luis Fernando presided at a collective funeral, and Father Oscar Geovanny is still searching for his family members. Father Jorge has sent us some photos of his parishioners as they help and support people who have lost everything. Father Oscar Claros reports that of the 17 quarters that were complete wiped away, 5 of them were in his parish: entire families who lived the Word of Life have disappeared. He is personally involved in the work of distributing aid and supporting his parishioners.”
“The Focolare community throughout the country is stepping up, gathering funds that can be sent to the site of the disaster, through priests of the Movement. The focolarini in Bogotà have activated a speedy channel of communication with people from the area, and are trying to support them and give them hope in these difficult moments. This morning we talked with Father Oscar Claros: “The situation is still chaotic, the zone without water and electricity, with the real threat of an epidemic.”