Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala mudslide leaves hundreds missing

Media captionHundreds are missing after the devastating mudslide

Rescue workers in Guatemala are digging through rubble from a mudslide that hit a village not far from the capital, in search of hundreds missing.

At least 26 bodies have so far been recovered from the village of El Cambray Dos, rescue services say.

Heavy rains swept a torrent of boulders and mud on to houses on Thursday, 15km (nine miles) east of Guatemala City.

Relatives have been receiving calls and texts from people trapped under the rubble, reporters at the scene say.

Survivors have been taken to makeshift shelters. Rescuers temporarily called off the search late on Friday because of heavy rains, AP news agency reports.

Julio Sanchez, a spokesman for Guatemala's volunteer firefighters, said 26 people had died, including a number of children, and another 36 people were taken to hospitals.

One man was pulled alive from the rubble more than 15 hours after the mudslide hit.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Local authorities said the hillsides had been weakening for some time.
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Children were among the victims dug out of the rubble.

But Alejandro Maldonado, the head of the Guatemalan disaster agency, has warned that as many as 600 people could still be missing.

He said that a number of people were believed to be asleep in their homes when the mudslide occurred.

El Cambray is surrounded by steep hills that tower over the houses, which are mostly set in the valley bottom.

Mr Maldonado said in a radio interview that the forested hills had been weakening for some time and had collapsed largely because of recent heavy rain.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Heavy rains swept a torrent of boulders and mud over dozens of homes on Thursday night.
Image copyright AP
Image caption Rescue workers had to dig into tons of earth that had buried the houses

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