SANTA CATARINA PINULA, Guatemala, (APP) – At least 131 people were killed in mudslides that smashed into a village outside Guatemala City, officials said Sunday, three days after the disaster struck the Central American nation.
“Unfortunately, a new count shows that there are 131 confirmed dead and recovered,” and still about 300 people missing and unaccounted for, said volunteer fire brigade spokesman Julio Sanchez.
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 kilometers (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. That critical window lapses at 0400 GMT Monday.