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Hope Dims for Finding Survivors of Deadly Guatemala Mudslide

by Associated Press /  / Updated 

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SANTA CATARINA PINULA, Guatemala — Hope faded Sunday for finding any survivors of a mudslide that killed at least 131 people as rescuers reported that the buried dwellings they reached were filled with water, suggesting that anyone trapped inside would have drowned.

Rescue workers pulled more corpses Sunday from the mound that was created when a hillside collapsed Thursday and covered about 4 acres with mud and dirt as deep as 15 yards.

Related: Families Mourn Victims of Guatemala Landslide

Julio Sanchez, a spokesman for Guatemala's volunteer firefighters, said 131 bodies had been pulled from the mud.

Image: Rescue workers carry mudslide victims in Guatemala
Rescue workers team members carry bodies of mudslide victims to a coroner's truck Sunday in Santa Catarina Pinula, Guatemala.Reuters

At an improvised morgue, 82 bodies have been identified and handed over to relatives, said the municipal medical examiner, Dr. Carlos Augusto Rodas Gonzalez. However, other bodies, some of which were found in pieces, remain unidentified.

The grim list of the dead who have been identified included at least 26 children and teenagers.

Rescuers decided to keep individual emergency workers, relatives and reporters off the increasingly foul-smelling mound of dirt. Instead of digging by hand and listening for survivors, crews planned to use backhoes and bulldozers to speed the search.

"The people who could have been alive have drowned," emergency services coordinator Sergio Cabanas said.

Authorities said about 300 people may still be missing. But they left open the possibility that many of them had simply fled and taken refuge with relatives without contacting authorities.

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