- Title: MEXICO: Landslide less deadly than feared
- Date: 30th September 2010
- Summary: SANTA MARIA TLAHU ITOLTEPEC, OAXACA, MEXICO (SEPTEMBER 28, 2010) (REUTERS) RESCUERS CROSSING RIVER ON BOARD GENERAL VIEW OF MUDSLIDE RESCUERS ENTERING THE AREA CARRYING EQUIPMENT GENERAL VIEW OF MUDSLIDE MUD CONTINUING TO FALL VARIOUS OF DIGGER WORKING AND MEN DIGGING THROUGH MUD VARIOUS OF RESCUERS SEARCHING THROUGH RUBBLE (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) COMMISSIONER OF STATE AGENCY OF INVESTIGATIONS, JORGE ALBERTO QUESADAS, SAYING: "We have in this area, two homes that were completely covered by the mudslide and where there seem to be two families trapped - two families consisting of the heads of the families and three young children in each one." MEN DIGGING THROUGH MUD (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) RESIDENT, CARLOS GONZALEZ, SAYING: "Now, all of her children are buried. The only thing that I demand, please, please gentlemen, fight, get them out even if it is only a body - that is the only thing that remains." VARIOUS OF RESCUERS IN THE AREA VARIOUS GENERAL VIEWS OF MUDSLIDE VARIOUS RUBBLE OF HOMES PEOPLE STANDING BY FAST-FLOWING RIVER DESTROYED HOMES
- Embargoed: 15th October 2010 13:00
- Location: Mexico
- Country: Mexico
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Reuters ID: LVA48VRUANP23OX6BQ0C5VET95W3
- Story Text: A landslide in a remote mountain town sent Mexican authorities scrambling to deploy rescue workers on Tuesday (September 28), but initial reports that hundreds were buried proved overblown.
Local officials originally said the landslide in Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec, a poor indigenous town in southwestern Oaxaca state, had left hundreds of houses buried and at least 500 people believed dead.
But as soldiers and other rescue workers made it to the isolated area, they learned the early morning landslide was far less deadly.
Oaxaca police said on Tuesday afternoon only a handful of homes appeared to have been destroyed, a far cry from earlier reports from the Oaxaca governor that up to 300 homes were swept away when a rain-soaked hillside collapsed around 4 a.m.
Still, rescuers and local residents worked steadily, digging through the mud and the rubble of homes in an effort to find anyone trapped.
"We have in this area, two homes that were completely covered by the mudslide and where there seem to be two families trapped - two families consisting of the heads of the families and three young children in each one," explained Jorge Alberto Quesadas, the Commissioner of the State Agency of Investigations, overlooking the scene.
Resident Carlos Gonzalez said he believed a neighbor's children were buried, and pleaded with rescuers to do all they could.
"Now, all of her children are buried. The only thing that I demand, please, please gentlemen, fight, get them out even if it is only a body - that is the only thing that remains," he said.
In the hours after the news broke early on Tuesday, the government of President Felipe Calderon declared the landslide a national tragedy and dispatched Marines and other rescue workers in planes and rugged vehicles.
As more than 400 military personnel, doctors and police struggled to reach the town, some making their way by foot, local officials gave conflicting reports about the toll the landslide had taken.
Fatality numbers continued changing, ranging from four to seven to twelve. However, as the day wore on, Oaxaca's Governor said no deaths had been confirmed.
"At this moment, there are no dead. There are 11 missing, supposedly eight children and three adults. We are going to wait and the rescue teams that are working in the zone are going to continue advancing. I hope that the information keeps changing and that the missing are alive. The information that I have been getting since the morning keeps changing fortunately, and the situation is not what I had thought it was," Governor Ulises Ruiz said at a news conference.
Still, on Tuesday evening, access remained difficult to Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec with roads and bridges washed out by heavy rain and blocked by mudslides.
Civil protection authorities in Oaxaca said the landslide was due to heavy rainfall from Tropical Storm Matthew, which killed 12 people in Central America over the weekend.
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