JOSE Albeiro Vargas last saw his grandson the night a fierce rain unleashed havoc on Mocoa, a small city surrounded by rivers and mountains in southern Colombia.
From what Vargas has been able to gather, the torrents of mud, water and debris unleashed on the city by the rain-swollen river swept away his 18-month-old grandson, Jadir Estiven. On Sunday, Vargas was searching for the boy and the infant’s young mother, his daughter. The baby’s father survived.
“They were hit by the strongest avalanche,” said Vargas, a clothing store owner who was so tired from the search effort that he could barely open his eyes.
He is far from the only person in Mocoa searching desperately for young loved ones. At least 43 children were among the confirmed dead from the devastating flood, according to President Juan Manuel Santos. Santos said he’d been told the death toll had increased to 254.