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Environment

Here’s How You Can Help Victims of the Colombian Mudslide

In the early hours of Saturday, 254 people perished in their sleep in southern Colombia, washed away by the rushing waters of the Mocoa, Sangoyaco, and Mulata rivers. Among the victims were 62 children. Another 202 were injured, many in critical condition. Hundreds are still missing.

The AP reports that the death toll will likely rise, as many people are still missing or risk being buried under the layers of mud and rubble.

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By 3 a.m., heavy rains triggered flash floods and mudslides, completely engulfing 17 neighborhoods in the city of Mocoa. On Saturday, President Juan Manuel Santos said that 30% of the rainfall that normally occurs in one month accumulated in one night.

One of the worst natural disasters in Colombia’s history, Santos blamed the tragedy on climate change.

“Climate change is generating dynamics and we see the tremendous results in terms of intensity, frequency, and magnitude of these natural effects, as we have just seen in Mocoa,” Martin Santiago, the UN Chief for Colombia, said.

Read More: Why the Next 50 Years Are Critical to Determining the Planet's Future

Unusually warm waters in the eastern Pacific Ocean have caused deadly floods like the one in Mocoa, and others in Peru and Chile earlier this spring.

About 600 survivors spent Sunday in makeshift shelters, on high alert for further flash floods. The governor of the Putumayo region, Sorrel Aroca, told Caracol Radio that hospitals were collapsing, overwhelmed by the number of injured.

A spokesman for the local power utility added that the region is without gas, power, telephone services, or a sufficient amount of clean water. It could take two weeks to restore energy in the area.

More than 2,500 soldiers and police have been sent to Mocoa as part of a massive relief operation. But with roads cut off, bridges collapsed, and resources scarce, these relief workers face challenging conditions.

Survivors need clean water, blankets, food, and medication. Here’s how you can help.

Donate to Unicef Latin America

In the wake of this natural disaster, the most vulnerable are children. The Red Cross announced that more than 300 families in the region have been affected, displacing a large number of children. At least five schools have been destroyed.

Support the Colombian Red Cross

The organization announced on Sunday that it is not currently accepting donations because it needs to establish a system of distribution for the funds. You can still keep an eye on the group's official Facebook page and website for updates. Additionally, should you have the time and the resources, join the ranks of rescuers on the ground, working to rescue survivors.

Spread awareness

Every hour, since the hour of the tragedy, Canal Institucional — Colombia’s state-run national television — has been working to keep the facts and stories up-to-date. Share, watch, retweet, and use the hashtag #TodosConMocoa (or ‘everyone with Mocoa’) which has raised awareness throughout the country.

Send safe drinking water

Litros Que Ayudan, which translates as “liters that help,” has pledged to send drinking water to the affected area in Mocoa. Any donation will ensure that those already struggling to survive will have access to clean water.

Give to Mercy Corps

An organization that has worked in the Putumayo region for 11 years, Mercy Corpsis a global humanitarian aid agency that has been long provided disaster relief. You can help the team on the ground by providing access to food, clean water, blankets, and hygiene kits.

Call your local representative to talk about the reality and risks of climate change

Currently, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency denies the existence of climate change, and is working to unravel policies that protect the environment. Bill de Blasio, New York City’s mayor, has already come out and said: “Tragedies in Peru and Colombia call us to continue to fight climate change. Our thoughts are with the families who lost loved ones.”

Play your part in ensuring that another disaster like the one in Mocoa never happens again.