Aerial photos show the scale of the devastation after an avalanche of mud, water and debris smashed into the Colombian city of Mocoa, engulfing homes, destroying roads and bridges, and killing at least 273 people, many of them children.

Colombia mudslides landslides floods
Aerial view of a neighbourhood of Mocoa destroyed after flooding and mudslidesJaime Saldarriaga/Reuters
Colombia mudslides landslides floods
Aerial view of houses engulfed by mud in MocoaJaime Saldarriaga/Reuters
Colombia mudslides landslides floods
Aerial view of the mountainside that collapsed on to the city of MocoaJaime Saldarriaga/Reuters
Colombia mudslides landslides floods
Aerial view of people standing outside a home destroyed by mudslidesJaime Saldarriaga/Reuters
Colombia mudslides landslides floods
Aerial view of rescuers and residents gathered in the city of MocoaJaime Saldarriaga/Reuters

Mocoa is vulnerable to flooding. It is surrounded by three rivers in a natural basin created by the surrounding mountains. Heavy rain caused the rivers to rise up, sending a wall of water, mud, trees and vehicles through the city of 40,000 as people slept.

Colombia mudslides landslides floods
Rescue workers recover a body from a mud-engulfed house in MocoaJaime Saldarriaga/Reuters
Colombia mudslides landslides floods
People stand on a mud-covered street in MocoaJaime Saldarriaga/Reuters
Colombia mudslides landslides floods
People remove debris from a destroyed street after flooding and mudslides in MocoaJaime Saldarriaga/Reuters
Colombia mudslides landslides floods
A young man sits outside his destroyed house following mudslides caused by heavy rains in MocoaLuis Robayo/AFP

Scores of decomposing cadavers have released for burial as rescuers continue to search for victims. Desperate families have had to wait in line to search a morgue for their loved ones. Bodies wrapped in white sheets lie on the concrete floor of the morgue as officials seek to bury them as soon as possible to avoid the spread of disease. The government has begun vaccination against infection.

The survivors of the deadly flood that washed through this city have begun burying their loved ones after authorities began to release the remains. 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.

Colombia mudslides landslides floods
New coffins are seen in a cemetery in MocoaJaime Saldarriaga/Reuters
Colombia mudslides landslides floods
A man faints during a family member's funeral at the cemetery in MocoaLuis Robayo/AFP
Colombia mudslides landslides floods
A woman mourns over the coffin of her father killed by a mudslide in MocoaLuis Robayo/AFP

The Colombian Red Cross says it has received 374 requests for help from families unable to locate 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 percent 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.

The death toll has ticked up as rescuers search with dogs and machinery in the mud-choked rubble. Many families in Mocoa have spent days and nights digging through the debris with their hands despite a lack of food, clean water and electricity.