A weekend of torrential rains in Colombia left 37 people dead, authorities told Efe.

Twenty-nine people were killed when a mudslide buried much of a neighborhood in Manizales, capital of the central province of Caldas, Colombian Red Cross official Cesar Urueña said.

Separately, eight people died while swimming in the rain-swollen Melendez River in the southwestern province of Valle del Cauca, emergency services official Lilian Muñoz told reporters.

Around 30 people were enjoying a swim in the river when the current suddenly surged, carrying eight of them to their deaths, she said.

Speaking in Manizales, President Juan Manuel Santos offered condolences to those who lost loved ones in the mudslide, while also urging residents to follow instructions from disaster management officials.

Initial reports indicated that residents of the stricken neighborhood ignored orders to evacuate before the mudslide.

The government will aid those whose homes were destroyed and emergency personnel will continue "working without a break," the president said.

Teams were still searching for bodies at the site, the spokesperson of the DGR risk management office, Sandra Calvo Pinzon, told Efe by telephone.

"But we don't have an official number of missing," she said, reacting to media accounts that as many as 70 people were buried under the mud.

The disaster in Manizales destroyed at least 17 homes, Calvo said.