Guatemala mudslide death toll rises to 56, hundreds more missing

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Guatemala mudslide courtesy: CNN

SANTA CATARINA PINULA, Guatemala — A Guatemalan emergency official says the number of people killed when a hillside collapsed on a group of homes has risen to 56.

The rain-soaked side of a hill crashed down onto El Cambray, burying dozens of homes, said Alejandro Maldonado, National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction.

Dozens of rescue workers and volunteers searched all day Friday in the mud and debris for survivors and victims.

“The figure we are using as potentially missing — and I want to emphasize that this is an estimate — is of 600 people missing,” Maldonado said. Many people in El Cambray did not heed a warning to evacuate, he said.

El Cambray is located about 10 miles east of Guatemala City.

Julio Sanchez says that besides the dead, officials estimate that 350 people remain missing. Sanchez is a spokesman for Guatemala’s volunteer firefighters.

The previous death toll was 30 and estimates of the number of missing had been as high as 600.

Rescue specialists from the Red Cross and fire and police departments were using dogs to search for possible survivors in the mudslide zone on the outskirts of Guatemala City, where tons of earth fell over some 125 homes, authorities from the region estimate.

After suspending work Friday evening, search efforts resumed at dawn on Saturday.