Rescuers found five lifeless bodies on Wednesday in the landslide that blocked the road between Bogotá and southwestern Colombia, raising the number of deaths to 22 without completing the search efforts.
According The National Risk Management Unit has six other people injured and another 22 still missing.
The movement of earth and rocks, mixed with water, devastated a hamlet in the municipality of Quetame, in the department of Cundinamarca.
On Tuesday, they had found 15 victims of the avalanche, which keeps the road between the capital, Bogotá, and Villavicencio, the main city in southeastern Colombia with some 500,000 inhabitants, blocked at kilometer 60.
Farfán assured in the morning that he had to stop his work due to bad weather conditions.
He later reported that some bodies had been found in the area where the tragedy occurred and others downriver, victims of the avalanche.
The captain added that storms hinder the search and did not rule out the possibility of another movement of land.
“(We are monitoring) with technological equipment to be able to identify these risks and, if necessary, evacuate our first response groups,” he conceded.
He added that since Tuesday the river that flows down the mountain has shown an “increase” in its flow.
The avalanche also knocked down a vehicular bridge on the road. That highway, one of the main freight transport corridors in Colombia, will be closed at least until the end of next week, according to the Cundinamarca government.
The mayor of the municipality, Camilo Parrado, assured that the mud reached two meters in height in some areas. A tollbooth was littered with mud and stones.
The mountainous geography and many waterways in the region make this type of landslide on the road common.
“The recurrence of these fatal events warrants a discussion (…) on substantive measures for the stabilization of the region. I propose the configuration of a forest reserve area along the highway and its water tributaries,” the president, Gustavo Petro, wrote on his Twitter account.
The leftist president also announced the opening of “five additional flights” between Bogotá and Villavicencio “to overcome the emergency.”
The rainy season in Colombia began in June and usually lasts until November. Last year it left some 300 dead and 700,000 affected, including 34 people who died when the bus they were traveling in was buried in a landslide in the west of the country.