Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Hundreds Feared Dead in Mexico Landslide
Teams competeing in this years La Carrera Panamericana will have to be concerned about possible road conditions for more than the usual reasons. This year's rainy season in Mexico has been the worst on record. A landslide buried 100 to 300 homes in Mexico's Oaxaca state early today as residents slept, and the governor said he fears hundreds may have died.
The ground gave way in Santa Maria de Tlahuitoltepec around 4 a.m. according to the Oaxacan newspaper Excelsior. Donato Vargas, a town official, said that at least 400 people are missing, according to the BBC.
"We were all sleeping and all I heard was a loud noise and when I left the house I saw that the hill had fallen," Vargas told the Associated Press.
Rescue teams are trying to make their way to the town, about 50 miles east of the capital city of Oaxaca, but bad weather has cut off several roads. Rescuers from at least four states have been sent to the town, with many being flown in with rescue dogs and machinery, the BBC reports. President Felipe Calderon will reportedly visit the town later today. "There has been lots of rain, rivers have overflowed and we're having a hard time reaching the area because there are landslides on the roads," Gov. Ulises Ruiz said, according to The Associated Press.
He told the Televisa network that he fears as many as 1,000 people may have been buried alive when heavy rains overnight caused a mountainside in the southwest Mexican town to collapse, the AP reported. The mayor of Santa Maria de Tlahuitoltepec, Palemon Vargas Hernandez, said 8,000 of the town's 10,000 residents had been affected. Survivors were gathering in the town's center and looking for shelter. Power and phone lines in the town are out. Houses that were not buried in the slide were on the brink of collapse, MSNBC reported.
Santa Maria de Tlahuitoltepec is home to the indigenous Mixe culture, one of Mexico's poorest, according to the BBC.
Flooding earlier this month killed 25 people. Hurricane Karl, which made landfall Sept. 17 on Mexico's Gulf Coast, was blamed for the deaths of at least 15 people. In July, Hurricane Alex caused 22 deaths and left 40,000 people homeless, according to Agence France-Presse.
The landslide is the latest weather-related disaster to befall a nation suffering from a relentless string of hurricanes, tropical storms and depressions that have slammed southern and eastern Mexico in the past several weeks, flooding cities, valleys, historic sites and broad stretches of farmland.
Mudslides have killed residents in several states, including Oaxaca, Chiapas, Puebla, and coastal Veracruz, where Hurricane Karl left at least 14 people dead and an estimated 400,000 people homeless.