Hundreds Feared Dead As Rescue Efforts Stall Following Guatemala Landslide

Rescuers evacuate a survivor of the landslide in Santa Caterina Pinula. (Image: CONRED, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Rescuers evacuate a survivor of the landslide in Santa Caterina Pinula. (Image: CONRED, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Top Story — Rescuers in Guatemala continued efforts to find survivors on Sunday, following a landslide which has killed at least 95 people and left some 300 more missing and feared dead.

The landslide struck late on Thursday in the Santa Caterina Pinula municipality on the outskirts of the capital Guatemala City, Reuters reported.

While some of the 300 people who are still missing may have simply fled the area, officials told The Associated Press, rescuers working through the weekend have pulled no survivors from the debris blanketing the affected area.

The authorities had warned residents against building in the area hit by the landslide, Reuters reported.

Settlements are commonly built against such advice in Guatemala, where poverty rates are high. Hundreds of the people killed in landslides that followed Hurricane Stan in 2005 were buried in mass graves.

Reuters suggests the issue of preventing landslides and other disasters may become relevant in the second round of president elections, to be held on Oct. 25, noting that the government has been in “disarray” recently amid widespread protests against official corruption, which culminated in the resignation of President Otto Peréz Molina.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights called for a further investigation into what they describe as potential extrajudicial killings that occurred during a May firefight between Mexican security forces and alleged Jalisco New Generation Cartel members that left 43 people dead in Tanhuato, Michoacan.
  • Protestors and riot police clashed and three people were arrested Friday during a demonstration in Mexico City’s Zócalo plaza to commemorate the anniversary of the 1968 Tlateloco student massacre.
  • Leftist politicians in Mexico, including former presidential candidate and founder of the Party of the Democratic Revolution Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, announced the launch of Por Mexico Hoy, a democracy-driven social movement.

Caribbean

  • Eight of 54 candidates running for the Haitian presidency debated in a Miami high school Sunday.
  • The United States Coast Guard has found debris they believe to be from a missing cargo ship that was last heard from on Thursday after entering Bahamian waters during Hurricane Joaquin.
  • Puerto Rican police arrested Teófilo Tineo González and are searching for three others who they allege attempted to smuggle $5.4 million worth of cocaine and heroin onto the island from the Dominican Republic.

Central America

  • A University of Washington law student has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the CIA, claiming that the organization purposefully withheld documents concerning former Salvadoran army Colonel Sigifredo Ochoa Peréz’s involvement in the 1981 massacre of civilians in Santa Cruz, El Salvador.
  • The Nicaraguan interoceanic canal project is under fresh doubt after it was revealed that Wang Jing, the Chinese telecommunications billionaire who has bankrolled the project, has lost 85 percent of his $10 billion fortune since June.

Andes

  • Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Sunday decried the U.S. government’s delay in approving Maximilien Sánchez, a top Venezuelan diplomat, as the South American country’s ambassador in Washington.
  • Meanwhile, Venezuelan Ombudsman Tarek William Saab has chastised the United States after officials, allegedly acting on U.S. orders, stopped and questioned him in a Mexico City airport, where he had travelled to attend a human rights conference.
  • Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Friday confirmed the death of major drug lord and EPL rebel leader Víctor Ramón Navarro-Cerrano, alias Megateo, during a bombing raid in the Catatumbo region. The U.S. government held a $5 million reward on Navarro prior to his death.

Southern Cone

  • Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva may now be questioned by police in relation to the multi-billion dollar kickback scheme at partially state-owned oil company Petrobras, after the country’s Supreme Court authorized a motion for permission to question him on Friday. The motion, filed in September, states that the former president “may have benefitted” from the scheme that threatens to engulf the ruling Workers’ Party.
  • Brazilian Attorney General Luís Inácio Adams announced on Sunday that he will seek the removal of a judge responsible for the probe into President Dilma Rousseff’s fiscal accounts, a move that Reuters calls “a last-minute attempt to avoid a ruling that could lead to her impeachment.”
  • Argentina on Sunday held its first-ever presidential debate since transitioning from a military dictatorship to a democracy in 1983. All candidates participated, with the exception of front-runner and ruling-party candidate Daniel Scioli.

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