GUATEMALA CITY – Two Indian children were buried alive in Guatemala when a hillside collapsed during the heavy rains of the last few hours and fell onto their poor dwelling, officials said Saturday.
The tragedy occurred in the town of Canilla, Quiche province, at 210 kilometers (130 miles) northwest of the Guatemalan capital, where more than a dozen communities are isolated by the multiple mudslides that have fallen on highways.
A firefighters’ spokesperson told reporters that the little girls, identified as Rosibel and Lesbia Dubon Ortiz, were asleep when the hillside crashed down and buried their home under tons of mud and rocks.
According to the latest report from the Conred national disaster management agency, the torrential rains that lashed Guatemala in recent days affected more than 40,000 people.
The report said that a total of 8,092 people had to be evacuated and of those, 7,313 went to temporary shelters, 1,238 homes were slightly damaged and more than 40 mudslides fell onto highways.
Several stretches of the Inter-American Highway are currently blocked by the mudslides, with authorities trying to clear away the tons of mud and rocks that poured down from the hillsides.
Since Thursday, classes have been suspended in four municipalities of the northern province of Alta Verapaz due to flooding.
Conred said that an orange alert is in effect nationwide as a preventive measure and to aid those affected.
According to the National Seismology, Vulcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology Institute, the storm is normal for the country’s rainy season, which began to dissipate on Friday.
To date in 2010, rains in Guatemala have left 276 dead and around 600,000 affected.