Death Toll Rises in Guatemala Mudslides

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Heavy rains on Sunday afternoon caused rescue workers in the Guatemalan village of Nahuala to suspend the search for survivors of massive landslides that have claimed the lives of at least 38 people.

"We will return when the rain ceases," Civil Protection spokesman David de Leon said, according to an Associated Press report.

Rescue workers were able to save several people after the mud buried two pickup trucks and a bus, Nahuala policeman Suagustino Pascual Tuy said.

Several rescue workers perished when another slide from the mountain above where they had been digging buried them.

"The mountain was making noise like an earthquake, but people wouldn't leave," Pascual Tuy said.

Maj. Otto Mazariegos who works with the regional fire department, said as many as 50 people may have been buried in a bus.

"Under the earth there is a bus that carried we don't know how many people, and there are those who tried to help the victims of the first slide," Mazariegos said.

Fire department spokesman Mario Cruz said it could take up to three days to recover all the bodies because of the heavy rains.

President Alvaro Colom, who visited the area on Sunday, declared a national day of mourning on Monday and ordered the highway closed.

"There are several hillsides that are loose and could fall," the president said. "So we ask the population not to go out, to avoid moving along the highway," he said.


AP contributed to this report.

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