Latin America & Caribbean

Hope fading for survivors in Guatemala landslide

Relatives of a victim of Thursday's landslide in the village of El Cambray II - take the coffin to the municipal cemetery of Santa Catarina Pinula municipality, some 15 km east of Guatemala City, on October 4, 2015 Image copyright AFP
Image caption The victims of the disaster were taken to a makeshift morgue to be claimed for burial by relatives.

Hopes are fading in Guatemala of finding more survivors following a landslide that has killed at least 131 people and left 300 missing.

Rescuers have dug for days in the village of Cambray near the capital, but say some of the homes they have reached are filled with water.

Tons of rain-sodden soil slid off a mountain on Thursday, burying houses.

Bulldozers were used to speed up the work but no survivor had been found over the weekend.

Rescuer reported that the smell of rotting bodies was spreading across the mound of earth that had buried the village.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption 1700 rescue workers laboured in shifts to search for survivors
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Heavy machinery was being used to speed up the search for survivors.
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Rescue workers dug out tons of soil to reach the victims

About 30 people have been rescued. Burials began to take place of those brought out of the disaster zone over the weekend.

Alejandro Maldonado, the head of the Guatemalan disaster agency told the BBC the communities had been told the area was high risk and should have been removed by the local authorities,

" We have here a very steep hillside of over 35% inclination which is very high risk for the community and should have been avoided. "

"Other factors are the river that runs at the base is eroding the support for the hill, it is very sandy material and we also have several illegal sewage discharges which weakened further the hillside causing collapse."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Coffins were donated to the victims families along with food supplies and clothing.

The rescue authorities said they were following international protocols which recommended 72 hours of search and rescue.

That period ended on Sunday night but spokesmen said their teams were prepared to continue to try to find the victims of the landslide.

Pope Francis and the presidents of Mexico and Spain have sent their condolences to the families of the missing.

Although Guatemala has had larger landslides, they have been in rural areas with far fewer victims.

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