Lines of people are quietly walking the streets of Mocoa, followed by hearses carrying coffins to a cemetery where open graves wait for the next sombre burials.
The survivors of the deadly flood that washed through this city in southern Colombia are preparing bury their loved ones after authorities began to release the remains recovered from a disaster that has shaken the country.
Colombian authorities said at least 273 people were killed when rivers surrounding Mocoa overflowed and sent a wall of water and debris surging through the city over the weekend. The death toll was expected to rise since many more were missing and bodies are still being found.
Danilo Garzon Garcia, a 22-year-old resident of the city, had spent the previous day searching with other family members for his young sister. They finally found her body at the local hospital, able to recognise her battered remains because of her underwear.
“It is better this way, better to know,” Garzon said as he walked alongside the car carrying her body to the cemetery. “At least we know where she is.”
The Colombian Red Cross says it has received 374 requests for help from families unable to locate loved ones, people whose whereabouts were still unknown three days after the disaster.
President Manuel Santos, making his third visit to the remote city in as many days, said 90 per cent of the dead had now been identified and that they would not consider anyone “disappeared” until they have established the death toll to the extent possible.
Much of Mocoa was still strewn with rocks, tree limbs, and brown muck. Search and rescue teams continued to probe debris piles when someone heard a possible sound of movement.
Many in this city of around 40,000 people still seemed in shock from the flood, which poured through the town after a punishing rainfall as people slept late Friday night and early Saturday.