Colombian rescuers are continuing the search for victims of a landslide that sent torrents of water and mud crashing onto a neighbourhood in the town of Salgar in the north-west of the country, killing 78 people and injuring dozens in the worst disaster of its kind for a decade.

Rescue efforts using search dogs resumed at dawn after being suspended overnight to find a still-unknown number of people missing since the landslide occurred in the early hours of Monday.

The national disaster unit said 78 were killed and at least 40 others had beentreated for injuries.

The homes of more than 500 people were destroyed or damaged.

Heavy rains caused a landslide into the La Liboriana ravine, blocking it off and causing an overflow that destroyed the neighbourhood below, the country’s worst landslide since 2005.

“It took my sister and my nephews and we haven’t been able to find them,” said Blanca Moreno, 50, standing near an improvised morgue set up in the cemetery for identification of victims.

“That’s why we’re here, to see what information we can get, to see if they’ve been found.”

Authorities in Salgar, nestled inside steep Andean slopes in a coffee-growing region in Antioquia department, northwest of the capital, Bogota, have partially restored electricity and water services.

Some 18000 people had been without drinking water, the United Nations said.

President Juan Manuel Santos visited the area on Monday and declared a public emergency, freeing up relief funds to assist the victims.