MOCOA, Colombia, April 3 (Xinhua) -- Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos confirmed Monday that the death toll from Saturday's landslide in Mocoa had increased to 262, including 43 children.
"As I said last night, the situation in Mocoa is constantly evolving. I must inform you, with great sorrow, that the number of deaths continues to rise. In this moment, they have told me of 262 dead," he told the press after leaving a cabinet meeting.
Santos, who will return to Mocoa on Monday, said that many people are in a critical condition but hospitals in the city continued to see deliveries of medicine and supplies.
"The challenge now is about public health: hygiene and preventing diseases in shelters and in the city. Campaigns of prevention and education have begun. A drinking water plant has begun working...producing 7,000 liters of water a day," he said.
Santos added that on Monday alone, Mocoa received 2,000 cooking kits, 2,300 cleaning kits, 7,000 blankets and 6,000 sleeping mats.
The president also thanked the Colombian people for their solidarity and announced that a state of economic, social and ecological emergency had been declared to ensure aid could flow to the area more easily.
"We declared an economic, social and ecological emergency in the cabinet meeting to make budgetary changes and transfers and to adopt all necessary measures to attend to the emergency," he said.
Other measures taken were that the Minister of Defense, Luis Carlos Villegas, has been assigned to supervise the reconstruction of Mocoa and that 40 billion pesos (14 million U.S. dollars) had been assigned by the government's risk fund to attend to the emergency.