Torrential rains from a tropical depression have caused mudslides that have killed at least 38 people in Guatemala − most of them in separate disasters along the same road.
In the village of Nahuala, rescue crews are searching through mud and rocks for bodies after two landslides in the same spot killed at least 20 people along a road leading north-west of the capital toward Mexico.
A slide on Friday trapped vehicles on the Inter-American highway, and some of the people who came to rescue those trapped by the first slide were themselves caught by the second slide, officials reported.
“There are several hillsides that are loose and could fall. We ask the population to not go out, to avoid moving along the highways.”
president Alvaro Colom
After the first slide president Alvaro Colom declared a national emergency.
The president told officials to close the road for fear of more slides. He said four children and two adults were buried in other slides elsewhere.
“There are several hillsides that are loose and could fall. So we ask the population to not go out, to avoid moving along the highways,” he said − not long before new slides took more lives.
“It is a tragic day. Today alone 18 people have died, 12 buried by a hill when the travelled in a bus,” Colom told a news conference.
Heavy rains from Tropical Depression 11-E have pelted Guatemala for days, unleashing deadly mudslides in several areas, cutting highways and forcing officials to evacuate thousands of people.
“Under the earth there is a bus that carried we don’t know how many people, and there are those who tried to help the victims of the first slide,” said regional fire department major Otto Mazariegos.
Rescue workers have recovered 20 bodies from that site, said fire department spokesman Jose Rodriguez. He said at least 60 people are missing.