Rescue teams in Guatemala searched for some 100 people thought to have been buried by a massive landslide sparked by downpours from Hurricane Eta, as remnants of the storm moved toward Cuba, gaining strength.
Guatemalan soldiers arrived Friday at the remote mountainous village of Queja in the central region of Alta Verapaz, where many people were killed after the mudslides buried about 150 homes, according to army spokesman Ruben Tellez.
They pulled the first bodies from the landslide after fighting through subsequent landslides and deep mud to reach the site.
The army estimated about 100 people died in Queja alone, while President Alejandro Giammattei suggested the number of dead and missing could be about 150.
Rescue operations across Guatemala have been hindered by more bad weather and destroyed roads and bridges. This has forced authorities to request help from the military and use helicopters and speedboats to rescue people from the roofs of their homes.
Eta, which hit Central America as a Category 4 hurricane Tuesday before weakening to a tropical depression, was one of the most powerful storms to hit the region in years.
Eta also inflicted damage from Panama to Honduras and Mexico. Authorities have estimated there were more than 50 flood-related deaths in those countries.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center warned that flooding could continue in the region and predicted that Tropical Depression Eta would become a tropical storm again later Saturday as it churned toward Cuba and the U.S. state of Florida.
Voice of America – English
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