At least 131 people have died in mudslides that smashed into a village near Guatemala City, news agency AFP reported late Sunday Oct. 4, three days after the disaster struck.
“Unfortunately, a new count shows that there are 131 confirmed dead and recovered,” and still about 300 people missing and unaccounted for, volunteer fire brigade spokesman Julio Sanchez said Sunday.
He told reporters that several young children, including newborn babies, were among the dead in Santa Catarina Pinula.
On Thursday night, following heavy rain, waterlogged earth and debris tore through the village of El Cambray II, in the municipality of Santa Catarina Pinula, destroying or damaging at least 125 homes.
Relatives of the missing checked in at a makeshift morgue set up next to the buried homes.
Municipal authorities had urged the community, about 15 kilometres (10 miles) east of the capital Guatemala City, to relocate several times, most recently in November of last year.
But many families have refused, saying that they have nowhere to go.
“We can’t live here any more,” Carlos Hernandez, an electrician who survived the landslide, lamented as he stepped between rescuers with his few remaining belongings on his shoulder.
Late Sunday, rescue workers had to suspend their work when rain resumed, making things too dangerous to continue before Monday.
The bad news came as, with every passing hour, hopes for finding survivors fade a bit further.
The best hope for rescuing victims in landslides, cave-ins and earthquakes is within 72 hours of the tragedy.
The destruction was sudden and decisive.
“I went on an errand for my mother and when I returned there was nothing,” said Carlos Ac, 17. He was still waiting for word about his missing mother and seven siblings.
In gray denim trousers and a black coat – now the only clothes he has – Ac said his family had come from the city of Quetzaltenango, approximately 200 kilometers to the west of the capital, to sell tortillas.
Alex Lopez, 44, called his ex-wife and daughters as soon as he heard of the landslide. “It rang. But there was no answer,” he told AFP.
Desperate families have reported receiving text messages from people they believed to still be trapped.
Officials said the impact of the heavy rain was exacerbated by a nearby river, and that municipal authorities had recommended the community relocate last year.
Eight people had already died in previous weather-related events tied to Guatemala’s rainy season, which lasts from May to November, according to government data.
Last year’s rainy season was tied to 29 deaths and damage to more than 9,000 homes.
More than 53 percent Guatemala’s population of 16 million lives in poverty. And the scars from a 36-year civil war that ended in 1996 are still fresh.
Besides grinding poverty and corruption, Guatemalans endure horrific crime rates and powerful, vicious street gangs blamed for giving their country one of the world’s highest murder rates.
Source: AFP News Service
more recommended stories
American family who died in Mexico ‘went to sleep and never woke up,’ cousin says
The four members of an Iowa family who.
Criminals break into schools in Acapulco, steal and cut victims’ hair
On Tuesday March 20, four men broke.
Infrastructure, the big challenge for the next state administration in Yucatán
“The next state government of Yucatan.
Iowa family found dead in Tulum Hotel
The Creston Police Department told WHO-TV that four.
Undocumented Single Mother Faces Deportation in Four Days: Montrealers Outraged at Failure of Sanctuary City
Montreal, March 23 2018 — Montrealers.
Campeche and Yucatán present at Expo ANTAD 2018
Exhibitors that participated in Expo ANTAD.
Mexican women mobilize against sexist violence
In hat and police suit, with.
Hubikú Ecopark: nature, gastronomy and Maya tradition in one place
Located in the municipality of Temozón,.
US State Department removes restrictions for Playa del Carmen
The US State Department through their.
Canadian WestJet launches new Mexico City direct flights
Canadian carrier WestJet is now offering.