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Death toll in Guatemala landslide rises beyond 90, hundreds still missing

Initial reports put the death toll at 26 killed, while up to 300 people were believed to be trapped under the debris.

By Fred Lambert

EL CAMBRAY DOS, Guatemala, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- The number of people confirmed dead after a landslide buried part of the village of El Cambray Dos, Guatemala, has increased to 96, while hundreds remain missing.

More than 1,000 rescue workers, using sniffer dogs and excavators, were searching the site located about 9 miles east of Guatemala City, where up to 300 people were believed missing.

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Heavy rains Thursday caused boulders and mud to slide onto the village, and trapped residents were reported to have called and texted relatives and emergency workers to report their plight. Initial reports put the number of dead at 26.

The BBC quoted Julia Barrera, a government spokesman, as saying 26 people had been rescued so far, but efforts have been hampered due to continued rains and unstable terrain.

El Cambray Dos is situated on the bottom of a valley surrounded by steep hills. Local authorities previously warned residents not to build houses in the area due to the threat posed by the precarious hillsides.

Funerals for the dead were underway, according to reports.

Alejandro Maldonado, head of the Guatemelan disaster agency, estimated Saturday the amount of missing may be up to 600.

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