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Death toll from Mexico mudslide rises

The death toll from the mudslide that hit the southern Mexican town of San Juan de Grijalva earlier this week has risen to six.

world Updated: Nov 09, 2007 11:56 IST

The death toll from the mudslide that hit the southern Mexican town of San Juan de Grijalva earlier this week has risen to six, with more than 20 people still missing, the Spanish news agency EFE has reported.

So far, 1,500 people have been moved into shelters after a hillside collapsed into the Grijalva River raising a huge wave that inundated the town, Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordova told reporters on Thursday.

San Juan de Grijalva, a town in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, was seriously affected on Sunday, when a mudslide cascaded into the Grijalva River, creating a gigantic wave some 70 metres (230 feet) high that washed away more than 60 homes.

"In all, we have seven shelters for some 100 affected families that lived in the surrounding area. The problem is delicate, but less bad than in Tabasco," said the official.

Cordova added that the health situation in Chiapas was under control, but he warned that the risk of epidemics still existed because the town, where some 200 families lived, remained buried in mud.

So far, authorities have not released any official version of what led to the landslide, but some have blamed the effects of climate change and others the lack of adequate infrastructure in the area.

Officials speculate that the softening of the ground due to recent intense rains led to the tragedy, but "geologists are trying to determine what happened, a completely unexpected phenomenon", Chiapas Governor Juan Sabines said.