Rescue Efforts Underway For Mudslide In Mexico; Death Toll Less Than Expected

A view of Oaxaca City, about 80 KM from where mudslides buried around 300 homes.
A view of Oaxaca City, about 80 KM from where mudslides buried around 300 homes.
A view of Oaxaca City, about 80 KM from where mudslides buried around 300 homes.

Today in Latin America

Top Story — Rescue efforts are underway in southern Mexico after a mudslide destroyed scores of homes and raised fears of a massive death toll.

The mudslide occurred in the town of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec around four in the morning, as a 650-foot-wide hill collapsed sending tons of mud over as many as 300 houses. Early reports stated that the death toll could reach into the hundreds, but by evening no deaths had been reported and only 11 people were missing.

Three adults and eight children were missing, said Mexican Interior Minister Francisco Blake and Oaxaca Gov. Ulises Ruiz, according to the Associated Press.

Due to poor road conditions caused by heavy rains, the first rescue crews were forced to wait until the afternoon to begin their search efforts. The workers are using megaphones to call out to survivors and searching homes for people.

“We are without electricity, light, phone service,” Donato Vargas, a community official in Santa Maria, according to the Los Angeles Times. “We are used to landslides in this area, but we’ve never seen one like this.”

Rescue helicopters brought workers and supplies to the storm ravaged town, including 200 picks and 200 shovels.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón spoke to officials in Santa Maria early in the day, who told him that the town was attempting to rescue people using two earth movers.

“We are dismayed by this tragedy, deeply saddened, but very determined to do everything we can, God permitting, to save the victims who may still be alive under the landslide,” Calderón said, according to the New York Times.

Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch

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