It is believed that dozens of people were killed in a landslide during Tropical Storm Eta last week.
Guatemala has ended bailouts at the site of a giant landslide that allegedly killed dozens of people in the village of Queja during Tropical Storm Eta last week, said the country’s national coordinator for disaster risk reduction (CONRED).
Storm Etas pouring downpours overturned trees, filled fast-moving rivers and tore down parts of a mountain above the village of Queja in central Guatemala’s Alta Verapaz region, burying people in their homes.
President Alejandro Giammattei said on Friday that up to 150 people could have been buried in the landslide in Queja, but CONRED’s own figures show eight confirmed deaths in Queja while another 88 people are missing in the village.
CONRED announced that it would cease searching for bodies due to ongoing risks at the site, in accordance with international protocols. Search teams had located eight victims before the effort ceased.
David de Leon, spokesman for the agency, said the area is very unstable and the soils are saturated.
The landslide was triggered by heavy and constant rain thrown from Tropical Storm Eta [Moises Castillo/AP Photo]Alberto Ical, a community leader in Queja, told Reuters news agency that the villagers wanted to continue the search as the local custom is to observe the bodies of dead family members before they are buried.
“I don’t want the bodies to stay there,” said Ical, who told the surviving Queja residents that CONRED will not allow the search.
“We want to keep looking and be able to find everyone, even though we know that will not be possible,” he added.
Nationwide, Eta’s confirmed death toll was 44, and 99 people were missing across Guatemala, according to CONRED figures.
The devastating weather front caused by Eta was one of the worst storms in Central America in years, spreading the destruction from Panama to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and Mexico.