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Another landslide hits southern Mexico; 16 killed

September 30, 2010 |  4:48 pm

Amatan aerial view

A fresh landslide in rain-weary southern Mexico killed 16 people on Wednesday in the largely indigenous and rural state of Chiapas, and the death toll from an earlier landslide in Oaxaca state rose to six, reported the state news agency Notimex (link in Spanish).

The Chiapas slide hit in the town of Amatan, and rescuers continued to search for at least four others reported missing. In Oaxaca, the landslide in the town of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec caused confusion when initial estimates said hundreds were missing or dead, but a day later, no deaths had been confirmed. By Thursday, the six confirmed deaths came as thousands of families were abandoning Santa Maria, by their own choice (link in Spanish).

An elderly couple was killed in a separate slide Thursday in the community of Villa Hidalgo Yalalag in Oaxaca. Neighbors and relatives reportedly recovered the bodies.

Southern Mexico and neighboring Guatemala continue to be threatened by weakened hillsides after a series of major storms soaked the region with torrential rainfall. A geologist at UNAM, Mexico's national university, told the daily El Universal that unchecked deforestation is contributing to landslide threats in the area (link in Spanish).

-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Photo: An aerial view of Amatan, Chiapas, after a landslide killed 16 on Sept. 29, 2010. Credit: Agence France-Presse