Cross-border Red Cross cooperation after Colombian car-bomb attack

Published: 7 March 2003 0:00 CET

Azucena Lievano in Bogota

An international team of more than 25 search and rescue volunteers from both the Colombian Red Cross and the Venezuelan Red Cross, were immediately deployed to assist victims of Wednesday’s car-bomb explosion in a busy commercial centre in the northeastern Colombian city of Cucuta, near the Venezuelan border. At least six persons were killed and more than 60 wounded.

The bomb went off in an underground car park and started a large fire. A large area of the shopping centre had to be evacuated due to the threat of the building collapsing. The electricity supply was also cut off.

During the first stages of the emergency, Red Cross efforts focused on search and rescue, providing first aid and transferring the wounded to nearby hospitals. Now, volunteers from the Norte de Santander branch of the Colombian Red Cross are setting up a family tracing centre and providing psychological support.

“Due to the situation in Colombia, we are used to this kind of emergencies,” says Carlos Ivan Marquez, a Colombian Red Cross relief coordinator. “We have specialised personnel trained in search and rescue.”

This type of co-operation between the Colombian Norte de Santander branch and the San Andres de Tachira branch in Venezuela is common, and strengthens emergency response actions.

A further 30 volunteers from the Colombian Red Cross are co-ordinating with other institutions, including a group of Venezuelan fire fighters, also deployed at the scene of the emergency.

Related links:

Colombia: appeal, updates and reports
Colombian Red Cross
Venezuelan Red Cross
Responding to man-made disasters