Little hope of survivors as 87 confirmed dead in Guatemalan mudslide

2015-10-04 18:05


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Guatemala City - At least 87 people have been confirmed dead in a mudslide on the outskirts of Guatemala City, with the numbers expected to increase as hundreds of people remain missing on Sunday.

Rescue crews and residents were searching for survivors in the rubble of the residential area of Santa Carina Pinula, with around 1 800 rescuers and volunteers were at work in the effort.

Pope Francis prayed for the victims of the disaster in front of a crowd of thousands on St Peter's Square in Rome.

"We are close to the severely affected population, also with concrete solidarity," the pontiff said.

"May God have mercy on the dead, grant healing to the injured, comfort loved ones and give the rescue workers strength," Guatemalan President Alejandro Maldonado wrote on twitter.

The mudslide, which buried about 125 homes, occurred after days of rain in the early hours of Friday. Witnesses said the steep hillside broke in two and fell onto the houses in the suburb, inhabited mostly by poor families.

It is unlikely that survivors will be found more than 72 hours after the earthquake - a deadline that expires on Sunday night.

Some of the homes lie under as much as 20m of soil, fire department chief Fritz Garcia-Gallont said, according to the newspaper Prensa Libre.

The city administration has set up emergency accommodation for those affected by the mudslide.

Residents quoted by the Prensa Libre newspaper said authorities had never warned them of any danger.

About 300 000 people living around Guatemala City are in an area susceptible to mudslides, according to disaster protection officials.

Read more on:    guatemala  |  natural disasters

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