Hundreds remain missing after a massive mudslide in Guatemala claimed the lives of over one-hundred people and as the death toll continues to rise, hopes of locating additional survivors diminishes.
On Sunday, the Associated Press reported that at least 131 people had been killed. Rescuers reported that dwellings reached had been filled with water, suggesting that those who remained trapped inside were already dead — the result of drowning.
Monday evening, the AP reported that after another day of digging for bodies, the fourth day at that, the death toll has risen to 144 dead.
The rising death toll has reportedly sparked inquiries as to why the homes were allowed to be constructed in the first place, as they were built at the base of what the AP reports to be a “dangerous” hillside next to a relatively small river.
Conred, the national Disaster Reduction Commission in Guatemala, indicated on Monday that it had recommended that residents be relocated prior to the acres-wide landslide — a recommendation which came last year after the residents of the Cambray neighorhood were warned of the risks associated with the location.
At this time, roughly 300 people are still unaccounted for.
The collapsed hillside has resulted in roughly 4 acres of mud and dirt, with depths as low as 15 yards.
While some of the bodies of the deceased recovered by rescuers were discovered in pieces and have yet to be identified, at least 82 bodies were identifiable and have since been handed over to relatives, according to municipal medical examiner Dr. Carlos Augusto Rodas Gonzalez.
At least 26 of the bodies identified belong to children or teenagers.
Services coordinator Sergio Cabanas was quoted by the AP as having said that those “who could have been alive have drowned” by now.
The people who could have been alive have drowned
In total, 125 homes were buried in Thursday’s mudslide after the 300-foot-tall, rain-sodden hillside collapsed onto the Santa Catarina Pinula neighborhood of Cambray — located on the outskirts of Guatemala City.