Landslide kills eight in Guatemala rubbish dump

June 21st, 2008 - 1:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Guatemala City, June 21 (IANS) At least eight people, including two children, were killed in a mudslide at a garbage dump here, Spain’s EFE news agency reported. Authorities said that between 50 and 100 “guajeros” (scavengers) who sift through the garbage in search of sellable items might have been at the bottom of a ravine inside the dump at the time of the mudslide Friday.

There are entire families who subsist on the roughly 100 quetzales ($13.38) a day they can earn extracting recyclables from the dump.

The spokeswoman for the Guatemala City government, Maria Jose Salas, said the tragedy took place in an area of the dump that is off-limits to scavengers precisely because of the risk of landslides.

But the president of the Recyclers Association, Gustavo Martinez, said municipal authorities have never been able to keep people out of the high-risk zone, while some of the survivors said that the group buried in the mudslide were known as “the miners” because they dug deeper into the mound of trash than the rest of the scavengers.

Located south of the capital, the dump covers some 284,000 sq metres and receives the refuse from an area with nearly 617,000 inhabitants.

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