Col. Bodies Pulled From Mudslide

Relatives have sobbed as rescue workers have recovered bodies from a mudslide in northwestern Colombia.

More than 100 people are still missing after weeks of heavy rain across the Andean nation caused the natural disaster.

Neighbours have been helping the search for survivors by using earthmovers, picks and shovels to dig deep.

The sodden hillside collapsed on Sunday and buried 50 homes in Bello town, near Antioquia province’s capital Medellin.

“In total we have recovered 19 bodies and we are still searching,” said Jorge Ivan Nova, sub-director of rescue operations at the Red Cross. “We are still working because there is hope we could find people alive.”

Bello’s government secretary, Diego Munoz, said 124 people were missing while other officials have said there were up to 145 people.

Rain and flooding have forced 1.5 million people from their homes this year in what the government calls one of the worst natural disasters in Colombia’s history. The bad weather has also hindered the coffee, coal and agriculture sectors.

Neighboring Venezuela is suffering as well, with tens of thousands of people displaced and President Hugo Chavez blaming “criminal” capitalism for climate changes.

The downpours in recent months are due to the La Nina weather phenomenon, which the government’s weather office expects to last into the first quarter of next year.

Flooding of agricultural land and the washing away of roads will raise inflation but not so much as to change consumer price targets, officials said.

Bad weather has affected commodity-producing countries worldwide, from rains stalling the wheat harvest in Australia to dry spells in some of Argentina’s soy-growing areas and oil refinery outages in OPEC member Venezuela.

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