An avalanche of water from three overflowing rivers swept through a small city in Colombia while people slept, destroying homes and killing at least 154 unsuspecting residents in their sleep, authorities said Saturday. The incident triggered by intense rains happened around midnight in Mocoa, a city of about 40,000 located near Colombia’s southern border with Ecuador that is tucked between mountains at the crux of two rivers.

Muddy water and debris quickly surged through the city’s streets, toppling homes, ripping trees from their roots, lifting cars and trucks and carrying them downstream. Many of the residents did not have enough time to climb on top of their roofs or seek refuge on higher ground. President Juan Manuel Santos warned the death toll could continue to rise. “We don’t know how many there are going to be,” he said of the fatalities when he arrived at the disaster zone. “We’re still looking.” Read More