At least 86 people have been confirmed dead in a mudslide on the outskirts of Guatemala City, with the numbers expected to increase as hundreds of people remain missing Sunday.
Rescue crews and residents are continuing to search for people in the rubble of the residential area in the town of Santa Carina Pinula, but the head of rescue operations, Sergio Cabanas, said that it was highly unlikely that any more victims would be found alive.
Around 1,800 rescuers and volunteers were at work in the effort.
“May God have mercy on the dead, grant healing to the injured, comfort loved ones and give the rescue workers strength,” President Alejandro Maldonado wrote on twitter.
The mudslide, which buried about 125 homes, occurred after days of rain in the early hours of Friday. Witnesses said the steep hillside broke in two and fell onto the houses in the suburb, inhabited mostly by poor families.
Some of the homes lie under as much as 20 metres of soil, fire department chief Fritz Garcia-Gallont said, according to the newspaper Prensa Libre.
The city administration has set up emergency accommodation for people affected by the mudslide.
Residents quoted by Prensa Libre said authorities had never warned them of any danger.
About 300,000 people living around Guatemala City are in an area susceptible to mudslides, according to the disaster protection officials.