At least 29 people were killed and 600 missing following a landslide that destroyed about 125 homes on the outskirts of the Guatemalan capital, officials said.
“We have 29 people confirmed dead and one still not confirmed,” Xinhua quoted said Sergio Cabanas, incident commander of Guatemala’s National Disaster Mitigation Coordination (CONRED), as saying late Friday.
CONRED announced earlier on Friday that the number of missing people might reach up to 600, based on estimates of destroyed houses.
The landslide occurred on Thursday night following heavy rains in the El Cambray II neighbourhood of the town of Santa Catarina Pinula, 15 km south of the capital, according to newspaper Prensa Libre.
Hundreds of rescue workers dug through sludge and rocks to find survivors. 36 people had been pulled out from the mud and debris and rushed to the hospital.
Qainy Bonilla, an 18-year-old national squash player who had hoped to represent his country at the 2016 Olympics, was among those killed, Xinhua news agency reported.
Municipal firefighters and volunteers could hear voices from those trapped by the landslide while rescuers remained careful to search through the collapsing rubbles.
CONRED has set up a temporary shelter nearby for homeless residents.
The Mayor of Santa Catarina Pinula announced that the local government would help cover the funeral expenses of the victims and provide support for the subsequent relocation.
The village used to be inhabited by poor families and some of the houses were built from sheets of metal and cardboard while others from more sturdy materials like concrete.
This year’s rainy season — from May to October — has affected more than 350,000 people, according to CONRED data.
Climate change has made Guatemala one of the most vulnerable countries to extreme weather phenomenons in recent years.