The confirmed death toll of a mudslide on the outskirts of the Guatemalan capital has climbed to 73 with nearly 350 others still missing as rescue workers recover more bodies from a collapsed hillside.
The Saturday development came as spokesman for Guatemala’s volunteer firefighters Julio Sanchez emphasized that the number of fatalities will most likely continue to climb as rescuers dig through massive amounts of earth that buried nearly 125 homes Thursday night in the Cambray neighborhood in Guatemala City’s suburb of Santa Catarina Pinula.
Underlining the shock encountered by rescue workers, Sanchez had earlier said that authorities had arrived at the death toll of 69 by counting body parts, such as heads and torsos.
Emergency services coordinator Sergio Cabanas stated that rescuers “still have hope of finding people alive if we just keep searching,” AP reported. The number of the missing had been put at 600 in earlier estimates.
Cabanas further said several people had reported receiving messages on their mobile phones from relatives trapped under the ruins.
He noted, however, that authorities had not seen the reported text messages, but had urged local telephone companies to map out those locations where the messages were originating.
However, hopes began to fade among rescuers by late Saturday with one of the rescue workers cited in the report as saying, “Given the time that has passed, the truth is there is little hope… Only a miracle can save them.”
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