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Guatemala landslide death toll reaches 161, rain hits rescue ops

world Updated: Oct 07, 2015 01:27 IST
Guatemala landslide

Volunteer firemen carry a body recovered from the debris in the village of El Cambray II, in Santa Catarina Pinula municipality, some 15 km east of Guatemala City, on Tuesday.(AFP)

The devastating landslide that took place in a Guatemalan village on Thursday night has taken a toll of up to 161 live till Tuesday, even as emergency workers continue pulling bodies from the mud and debris, officials said.

The search for victims of the landslide, which tore through the village of Cambray II Thursday night after heavy rain, resumed at dawn with the help of a Mexican team with trained rescue dogs, said Sergio Cabanas, head of the government’s disaster response program.

But hopes of finding survivors are growing increasingly slim, he said.

See in pics: Landslide devastates Guatemala City, hundreds missing

Emergency workers pulled 19 bodies from the debris on Tuesday, Cabanas said, updating the previous toll from Monday night, when officials said there were 142 dead and about 300 missing.

Workers wore face masks as the stench of decomposing bodies increased, and the area has been closed off to journalists.

The search had to be suspended on Sunday because of heavy rain that continued to lash the area, in the municipality of Santa Catarina Pinula, about 15km (10 miles) east of the capital.

Local authorities had urged the precarious hillside community to relocate several times, most recently in November last year.

But many families have refused, saying they have nowhere to go. More than 53 percent of the Central American country’s 16 million people live in poverty.