More landslides halt search in Guatemala

Sofia Menchu
·1-min read

Fresh landslides in Guatemala have halted rescue workers' efforts to dig through mud to reach houses swamped by a devastating storm that's killed dozens of people across Central America and southern Mexico.

Storm Eta's torrential downpours toppled trees, engorged swift-moving rivers, and ripped down parts of a mountainside above the village of Queja in the central Guatemalan region of Alta Verapaz, burying dozens of people in their homes.

The rains triggered more mudslides in Queja late on Saturday, and the head of a local emergency team said rescue efforts had been called off, possibly permanently.

"We are coordinating so that all the personal are evacuated in the morning because we can't work there. If we stay, lives will be lost," said the emergency worker, Juan Alberto Leal.

Some of the houses in Queja are under 15 metres of mud, Leal said, with relentless rain making the soil too loose to safely work, and new landslides forcing workers to flee to safer ground in the village.

Gloria Cac, a member of the Poqomchi' people and a resident of Queja, said 22 members of one family were missing after the mountain collapsed..

The weather front spread destruction from Panama to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and Mexico, has continued to push the death toll higher in those countries. It now stands above 65.