Over 250 killed as death toll in Colombian mudslides rises

Over 250 killed as death toll in Colombian mudslides rises

Rescuers search for people among the rubble left by mudslides following heavy rains in Mocoa

Mudslides and flooding have killed 254 people and left hundreds injured or missing after destroying homes in southern Colombia. 

The violent weather hit the southwestern town of Mocoa on Friday night destroying homes. 

A landslide in Colombia's southwestern border province of Putumayo sent mud and debris crashing onto houses overnight.

Heavy rains caused several rivers to overflow, pushing sediment and rocks onto buildings and roads in the provincial capital of Mocoa and immobilising cars in several feet of mud.

"We will do everything possible to help them," President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos said.  "It breaks my heart."

Photos posted on Twitter by the air force showed neighbourhood streets filled with mud and damaged houses while videos on social media showed residents searching for survivors in the debris and struggling to move through waist-high water overnight.

"It's a big area," Mocoa Mayor Jose Antonio Castro said. "A big portion of the many houses were just taken by the avalanche, above all people were warned with enough time and they were able to get out, but houses in 17 neighbourhoods have basically been erased."

He said that people were warned ahead of time and many wereable to get out, but several neighbourhoods and two bridges had been destroyed.

Weather authorities said light rains were expected in the area on last night and today.

A combination of heavy rains, a mountainous landscape and informal construction of homes makes landslides in the Andean country relatively common.