Saturday, October 08, 2005

Guatemala's misery

Because this is a blog about El Salvador, I have focused on the flooding and landslides there. But as the week has progressed, it hs become clear that the tragedy, measured in loss of life, was much worse in Guatemala. Entire towns were wiped out by landslides, and many regions have not yet been reached by rescuers. The BBC reports:

Dozens are feared killed after a hillside collapsed in the lakeside village of Panabaj, swallowing hundreds of homes, officials said.

And at least 60 people have been confirmed dead and hundreds more are missing in the nearby town of Santiago Atitlan, only reached by outside emergency teams on Friday.

The BBC's Mariusa Reyes in Lake Atitlan says the remote Mayan highlands area, popular with tourists, has been transformed into a mud-ridden chaos.

Residents say very little help has arrived in their communities and some have not eaten for several days, she adds.

"There are no words for this. I have only tears left," teacher Manuel Gonzalez, whose school in Panabaj was destroyed, told Reuters news agency.

"There were only houses here, for as far as you could see... It makes you lose hope," he said. "There are no children left, there are no people left."

Benedicto Giron, a spokesman for the National Agency for Disaster Reduction, said indications were that the death toll in the Atitlan area "could rise to 400".

For more, MSNBC has coverage, including a photo slideshow with powerful images from throughout the affected regions of Central America and southern Mexico.

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