The search for survivors continues Monday in Motoa, Colombia, as authorities increase relief efforts in response to an avalanche of water that struck the city early Saturday, killing more than 250.
Many of the residents of the city that is home to 40,000 were asleep when days of heavy rain caused a trio of rivers to overflow with a sudden barrage of mud and debris that inundated homes, killing at least 254 people and injuring more than 200, reports the Associated Press.
At least 220 remain missing, and authorities expect the death toll to rise, according to the AP. The disaster prompted President Juan Manuel Santos to declare a state of emergency on Sunday.
Two days after the disaster, a desperate search continues for the missing. Forty-three children were among the confirmed dead, with many others still missing, including the infant grandson of resident Jose Albeiro Vargas.
Vargas has refused to give up the search and said he last saw his daughter and grandson, Jadir Estiven, the night of the avalanche.
“They were hit by the strongest avalanche,” Vargas told the AP.
He is among a throng of residents still searching for loved ones.
On Sunday, the Colombian government began air logistics operations Sunday to search for the missing, as well as to deliver medicine, food, drinking water and power plants to the city, reports local media outlet, El Mundo.
Some 1,300 search and rescue workers used trained dogs to canvass the area for survivors on Sunday, reports ABCNews.
Carlos Ivan Marquez of the nation’s disaster agency said the river flooded around midnight, “catching unsuspecting residents off guard in the early Saturday hours,” the AP reports.
The local hospital collapsed, forcing officials to transfer the wounded to nearby towns, according to El Mundo.
The Air Force lifted 19 patients to a city in the north and said 20 more would soon be evacuated, according to AP.
Colombian Attorney General Nestor Humberto Martinez announced Sunday that his office has sent out 45 criminal investigators to Mocoa to help identify victims, reports AP. The Institute of Legal Medicine also sent out 15 pathologists to help with identifying the dead and performing autopsies.
“Hundreds of families are missing,” Sorrel Aroca, the governor of Putumayo said in the aftermath, El Mundo reports. Aroca said there were 17 neighborhoods affected by the mudslides, with structures destroyed and boulders “the size of a house” lying in the streets.