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Deadly mudslides in Guatemala as rainy season's storms batter region [Updated]

September 7, 2010 |  9:09 am

Quiche children guatemala mudslide victims

Heavy rainfall unleashed mudslides in Guatemala that have claimed at least 45 lives, and officials say hope is fading to find any survivors trapped under mud in two separate slides on the same highway in western Guatemala (link with video by the BBC).

[Updated at 11:04 a.m.: A previous version of this post erroneously said the two mudslides in Guatemala occurred in the north.]

Widespread flooding was also reported in southeastern Mexico over the weekend, killing at least 11 (link in Spanish). Flooding in the region during the current rainy season has killed 55 people in Honduras, at least 40 in Nicaragua, nine in El Salvador and three in Costa Rica, the Agence France-Presse news agency said.

In Guatemala, a mudslide on the Inter-American Highway in the village of Nahuala, west of Guatemala City, engulfed a bus and other vehicles on Sunday, and later another slide claimed would-be rescuers. President Alvaro Colom declared a state of emergency and a national day of mourning. Including victims from Tropical Storm Agatha in May, this rainy season is the worst the country has seen in 60 years, killing at least 236 people, said Guatemala's La Prensa Libre (link in Spanish).

On Tuesday, the newspaper reported that one motorist who witnessed slides along the highway said 1,000 vehicles are still stuck in the mud (link in Spanish).

Elsewhere in the region, a surging Tropical Storm Hermine made landfall early Tuesday in northeastern Mexico, prompting officials to urge residents to move to shelters. Mexico's southeast -- including the states of Chiapas, Tabasco, and Veracruz -- has been hard hit by a separate storm that displaced almost half a million people over the weekend.

-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Photo: Quiche indigenous children and women at a funeral for a Guatemala mudslide victim. Credit: Moises Castillo / Associated Press