Colombia: Nevado del Huila volcanic eruption OCHA Situation Report No. 3

Situation Report
Originally published
Key issues

Volcanic Eruption Nevado del Huila

With more than 50 events occurred since 12 p.m. to 4 a.m., authorities confirm an increase in volcanic activity


According to the most recent information provided by the Regional Direction of Disaster Prevention and Attention in Cauca and the regional director of INGEOMINAS more than 50 seismic events have been registered since last night in the Nevado del Huila volcano. These signals are indicating an increase in volcanic activity, after yesterday's eruption.

The population returned to their homes, with 20 persons still blockaded in the locality of Laguna de Paéz (Páez - Belalcazar, Cauca), near Toribío municipality, with nearly 1,300 currently in Buco and Yosayo, indigenous reservations.

An extensive evaluation of needs and damages is still ongoing. However, preliminary results show that the most severe material damages resulting from the eruption, are localized in the municipality of Paez Belalcazar, in Cauca Department. In Huila department, the other area under the influence of the volcano, only damages of irrigation systems, crops and livestock have been reported. In Huila, local authorities are maintaining a red alert.


All of the population living in the urban areas of Belalcazar municipal seat that evacuated yesterday (5000) returned to their homes. In the rural areas of the same municipalities, the evacuation of approximately 1200 persons living in the at risk area along the basin of Simbola River is still in progress and the family reported as missing has been located

Severe climactic conditions are hampering the evacuation of another 1320 persons living in Buco and Yosayo, located approximately 40 kms from the municipal seat of Belalcazar.

Although information regarding the needs of the affected population is not yet complete, preliminary reports indicate that approximately 420 families along the Paez River and 182 families along the river Simbola require immediate humanitarian assistance.

In "La Mesa de Caloto" (Páez Belalcázar municipality), the local authorities reported that 1.500 people require food and medicine.

Impact on Infrastructure: The water treatment installation of Belalcazar Paez municipal capital was completely destroyed by the avalanche.

The local authorities, with the support of the National Institute of Roads (INVIAS), are working to reestablish road connections with rural areas of the municipality. Yesterday's avalanche destroyed 15 bridges and damaged the main road network.

National Response

The provision of humanitarian assistance, mainly carried out by helicopter, has been hampered by severe climactic conditions and difficult terrain.

So far, the Regional Direction of Disaster Prevention and Attention in Cauca distributed food, medicines, blankets, mattresses and kitchen kits for 580 families in rural areas of Páez Belalcázar municipality.

The Departmental Government of Cauca is supplying medical centers with additional medical kits.

Tomorrow, the Colombian Red Cross will send a water treatment system emergency unit and radios to La Mesa de Caloto (Páez Belalcazar)

Today, the Colombian President visited Paez-Belalcazar municipal capital and announced a state of emergency for the area affected by the eruption. The declaration will allow the mobilization of special funds for the reconstruction phase.

Due to the special status of the indigenous reservations, today the Regional Direction of Disaster Prevention and Attention decided that all the humanitarian assistance will be delivered through the Cauca's Regional Indigenous Council.

International Response

In Cauca's Regional Direction of Disaster Prevention and Attention meeting, UNICEF offered aids for children, while OCHA is supporting ICRC delegates in identifying the needs of the affected population.

UNETE continues coordination meetings between the UNS and DisasterGeneral Direction for Prevention and Attention

PAHO maintains its support and technical assistance to the health system in Huila and Cauca departments.

OCHA is in close contact with the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Colombia and will provide further information as it becomes available.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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