Toll in Guatemala rains rises to 45September 8th, 2010 - 11:19 am ICT by IANS
Guatemala City, Sep 8 (IANS/EFE) Another body was found Monday among the tonnes of mud and rocks that fell Saturday on a highway in western Guatemala, bringing to 45 the number of deaths in the torrential rains.
The spokesman for the Conred disaster management agency, David de Leon, told EFE that with the body being found Monday, rescue workers have now recovered 25 bodies from the site of the mudslide on the Inter-American Highway in Totonicapan province.
“A total of 45 people have died in separate incidents” that have occurred since last Saturday, according to De Leon, who said that “the recovery work continues, but due to the threat of rain it could be suspended in the coming hours to avoid the danger of another mudslide”.
Authorities have detected at least 820 places that are vulnerable to mudslides, floods and avalanches nationwide, so the “orange alert” is being kept to maintain readiness for any emergencies, the Conred spokesman said.
Hills and mountains are vulnerable due to the saturation of the ground by the ceaseless rain, and which in the last three days has caused more than 100 mudslides, De Leon said.
While emergency service personnel work to recover the 15 people believed to be still buried, hundreds of neighbours and family members mourn their dead and lament the scourges of nature so merciless in recent years to this Central American country.
This year’s rainy season, described by officials as the wettest in six decades, has taken the lives of some 225 people so far in 2010 and has left a trail of destruction and millions in economic losses.
“These have been tragic days for the country,” President Alvaro Colom said Monday, urging all sectors to join together with the people affected by the flooding and mudslides, which over the weekend left another 56 injured, 254 homeless and 43,000 people at risk.
A UN report on the effects of climate change, published last year, listed Guatemala among the 10 countries in the world most at risk from this natural phenomenon.
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