Rescue workers have found at least 14 bodies and are searching for survivors after the massive landslides [AFP]

At least 37 people have been killed after mudslides swept over parts of towns in western Colombia as the country was battered by ongoing heavy rain, authorities said.

The state-run National System for Disaster Prevention and Attention said 16 people were wounded and another 20 missing.

In one of the incidents on Saturday that hit the Quindio and Caldas departments, four people were buried alive as they slept in their homes in El Castillo, a hamlet in the rural town of Calarca.

Another nine people were injured there, Red Cross officials said.

Four people also were killed in the city of Manizales, the capital of Caldas, 165km northwest of the capital, when another landslide swept into homes where about 32 families live, leaving four people dead and 28 missing, the Red Cross said.

"We do have a loss of 28 people who are missing whose relatives say were on the scene at the time of the emergency," said local Red Cross co-ordinator Jorge Zambrano.

Twelve people were rescued in that incident, the humanitarian organisation said.

Bulldozers and rescuers worked fast to clear rubble from destroyed houses on the outskirts of Manizales, a city in Caldas department in the country's main coffee-growing region.

The disaster happened on Saturday, and the death toll has climbed slowly since then. President Juan Manuel Santos visited the area on Sunday.

Colombia has suffered one of its worst rainy seasons in decades, with some 70 people killed and at least 245,420 people forced to evacuate their homes.

Source: Agencies