After weeks of torrential rains, the mudslides plowed through several blocks of the town of Argelia, 150 miles west of Bogota, the capital. The first slide occurred before dawn, the second after rescue workers had arrived.
Among at least 25 people trapped and feared killed were firefighters, police officers and civil defense workers, said Alfonso Vargas, the Colombian Red Cross director in Cali, the provincial capital.
"We need help. This is too small a hospital to deal with this emergency," the director of Argelia's hospital, Yadira Borrero, said. She said she had already received five bodies, all belonging to rescue workers.
Another four men were injured, three of whom were rushed to a larger hospital in the nearby city of Cartago. Most of them had broken bones, Borrero said.
Argelia, a city of 8,000, is in the same coffee-growing region that was struck by a devastating earthquake Jan. 25 which killed at least 1,170 people. Unusually heavy rains over the past few weeks have forced rivers over their banks and produced a series of smaller landslides in this Andean nation.